Friday, March 10, 2023

Pitch Clock Ejection - Time Violation Prompts Coach's Toss

A pitch clock-related time violation and automatic ball call led to ASU head coach Willie Bloomquist's ejection by 3B Umpire Darren Hyman, after Arizona State pitcher Owen Stevenson was called for a time violation due to excess step-off "reset" disengagements during a 6th inning plate appearance against UC Irvine.

With one out and one on in the top of the 6th, Anteaters batter Anthony Martinez stood in to face Stevenson. NCAA uses a 20-second "action clock" as opposed to MLB's variable pitch clock (30 seconds between batters, 20 seconds between pitches with runner(s) and 15 seconds between pitches with bases empty), and also has different rules about pickoffs and step-offs.

Whereas in professional baseball (MLB/MiLB), pitchers may disengage twice during any individual at-bat—including simply step-offs, fake throws, actual pickoff attempts, and other plays on the runner—the college rule limits pitchers to one step off per at-bat with the following exceptions: in college, disengagements due to pickoff attempts and plays on runners are unlimited and at both levels, the limit resets to two (MLB) or one (NCAA) if a runner advances.

In other words, the only real limit for college are the simple step off and fake throws. For the at-bat in question, pitcher Stevenson made several pickoff throws to first base (remember, pickoff attempts are unlimited under NCAA rules), and then briefly stepped off without making a play on the baserunner prior to delivering the 1-1 pitch. This step-off, known as a "reset", put the action clock back at 20 seconds (hence the term "reset") and counted as Stevenson one and only "reset" for the at-bat.

When Stevenson disengaged the rubber for a step-off again with a 2-1 count, this constituted a time violation of the "reset" limit rule, the penalty for which is an automatic ball, making the count 3-1. HP Umpire AJ Lostaglio enforced the rule by calling "Time" and signaling the count as 3-1. By rule, there are no warnings (NCAA Appendix F).

In NCAA, a so-called time violation of excessive resets results in a penalty of an automatic ball.
In MLB, a violation of excessive disengagements (without retiring a runner) results in a balk.

Head coach Bloomquist was ejected from foul line for continuing to argue the call following explanation.

We also talk about the scoreboard in use. Daktronics scoreboard / shot clock models not using tenths of a second result in a "zero" (or horn if there were to be automatic horn enabled, as is the case in basketball or hockey) when the clock display reads ":00" to fans. But internally, the scoreboard will actually read ":00.9" at the moment of the horn.

The nine-tenths of a second thus is also added to the start of the timer, making it look like the timer is delayed slightly when it is started. For a 20-second action clock, the timer thus begins at 20.9 seconds and expires at 0.9 seconds, reading as ":20" to ":00" for the fans.


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