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Interference / Obstruction

Interference happens when a RUNNER interferes with a fielder trying to make a play on a batted ball or when a RUNNER initiates contact with a fielder who has possession of the ball, resulting in a failure to complete a play for an out. Interference is a “dead ball” situation.  Interference usually means the runner is OUT.

Obstruction happens when a FIELDER, who does not have possession of the ball, obstructs the running lane of a base runner.  Obstruction is a “delayed call” situation.  Obstruction usually means the runner the SAFE.

Player / fielder contact is not always interference or obstruction. And you can have interference or obstruction even without player contact. If you have runner / fielder contact, you must ask a few questions to determine if you have obstruction, interference, or simply incidental contact.

1)      Was the fielder ACTIVELY making a play on a batted ball? "Making a play" includes a fielder moving toward a fielding position. The obligation to avoid contact with a fielder making a play on a batted ball is on the runner.

2)      Was the fielder in possession of the ball? Waiting on a thrown ball is NOT making a play and does NOT grant a fielder a "right" to be in the path of a runner.

3)      Did the fielder change directions and/or did the runner slow down in an effort to avoid a collision? Both players have an obligation to avoid contact. It's important to try to interpret the intentions of the fielder and runner, especially when contact is successfully avoided. Players should be rewarded for their efforts to avoid contact.

Examples:

Batted ball and batter is running toward first.  Collision happens at first base between the runner and the first baseman. Ball and runner arrived near the same time.  Ball was dropped by the first baseman.

1)     If the fielder was on the infield side of first and the runner had a way to touch first without a collision, INTERFERENCE, RUNNER IS OUT.
2)     If the fielder was on the outside edge or on top of first and the runner had no clear pathway to first, OBSTRUCTION, RUNNER IS SAFE.

3)      If the fielder was pulled onto the base by a bad throw and the collision was “unavoidable,” INCIDENTAL IMPACT, RUNNER IS SAFE.

Batted ball and batter is running toward first.  No collision happens at first base because the runner pulls up to avoid contact. Ball and runner arrived near the same time.  Ball was caught by the first baseman.

1)      If the fielder was on the infield side of first and the runner had a way to touch first without a collision, NO IMPACT, RUNNER IS OUT.
2)      If the fielder was on the outside edge or on top of first and the runner had no clear pathway to first, OBSTRUCTION, RUNNER IS SAFE.

3)      If the fielder was pulled onto the base by a bad throw, probably INCIDENTAL NO IMPACT, RUNNER IS OUT – but you MIGHT call obstruction and award the runner first base.

Batted ball to the outfield and runner from 2nd rounds 3rd and heads home as the throw is made.  Collision happens at home plate between runner and catcher. The catcher does not retain possession of the ball. Batter/runner proceeds to 2nd after the play at the plate.

1)      If the catcher was in possession of the ball prior to the impact and losses possession of the ball in the act of making a tag, NO IMPACT, RUNNER IS SAFE, BATTER/RUNNER REMAINS AT 2ND.
2)      If the catcher was in the base path waiting on the throw to arrive, OBSTRUCTION, RUNNER IS SAFE, BATTER/RUNNER REMAINS AT 2ND.
3)      If the catcher was in the base path and in possession of the ball, INTERFERENCE, RUNNER IS OUT, BATTER/RUNNER RETURNS TO 1ST.

Batted ball toward the 2nd baseman and runner from 1st and the 2nd baseman nearly collide.  2nd baseman retrieves ball and throws to first, but the batter/runner beats the throw.

1)      In almost all cases, this would be interference, RUNNER IS OUT, BATTER/RUNNER REMAINS AT 1ST.
2)      If the 2nd baseman was giving no indication of making a play, RUNNER AND BATTER/RUNNER ARE SAFE.
3)      If the ball was hit to the first base side, the 2nd baseman was in the base path and NOT making a play as the 1st baseman was pursuing the ball and attempting to make a play, OBSTRUCTION, RUNNER AND BATTER/RUNNER ARE SAFE.

 

Leaving Early (not applicable to Intermediate or Junior/Senior Division)

When the pitcher’s foot is in contact with the rubber AND the catcher is in position to receive a pitch, the runners must be touching the base. A runner may depart the base AFTER a pitched ball reaches the front edge of the plate.

If the runner leaves early, the umpire will declare "runner left early" indicating early departure. This is NOT a dead ball.

If the pitched ball is NOT HIT (i.e., is a ball or a strike), then:

·         If the violating runner is safe, time is called and ALL advancing runners are returned to their prior bases.
·         If the violating runner is out, he remains out and ALL other advancing runners are returned to their prior bases.

If the pitched ball is HIT into play (i.e., ball is hit to a fielder), then:

·         All advancing runners are permitted to attain the base they were forced by a trailing runner.
·         In no circumstance many a run score on a single.  If a runner is forced to home plate during the play, the run shall not be counted.

 

Infield Fly Rule

The objective of the Infield Fly Rule is to “protect the runners” from having to depart their current base when there is a pop fly in the infield.  As such – the rule is ACTIVE when there are runners at first and second OR runners at first, second, and third – AND – there is less than two outs.

NOTE:  If there are runners at first and third only, the Infield Fly Rule does NOT APPLY.

When a play has ended and the conditions of the IFR are met, the umpires should signal to each other that the IFR is active.

If, while the IFR is active, a batter hits a fair ball that is “catchable by an infielder with normal effort,” then the IFR shall be called and the batter shall be immediately out. None of the base runners shall be obliged to advance.

Example:

Bases are loaded and there is one out.  Batter hits a pop fly that would fall between the pitcher and the short stop.  The pitcher and short stop both move toward the ball.  The ball is about 40 feet into the air – enough that fielders are able to move toward the ball.

The umpire(s) will point toward the ball call out “INFIELD FLY. BATTER IS OUT.”  The batter is immediately out, regardless of whether any fielder catches the ball.  If the ball falls to the ground, the runners are NOT obliged to advance because batter/runner is out.  This NOT a dead ball.

Upon completion of the play, there are two outs. The umpires will signal that the IFR is no longer active.

Should the pop fly be near to the foul line, the umpire should call out “INFIELD FLY IF FAIR.”  The ball is determined to be fair, the umpire will call “BATTER IS OUT.”  If the ball is foul, the umpire will call “FOUL” and the batter will not be out.

Dropped Third Strike

IN AAA AND ABOVE, if the batter has two strikes AND the pitched ball that is determined by swing or umpire's call to be a strike is not cleanly caught by the catcher, then an out must be recorded either by tag or by force play.

EXCEPTION:  If first base is occupied and there is fewer than 2 outs, then the dropped third strike rule does NOT apply.  The batter is out upon the swinging strike.

Mechanics – the plate umpire should signal a strike and then step back to watch for the tag or to remain out of the way of a throw. The umpire may call “CATCH, BATTER IS OUT” if there is question whether the pitch was cleanly caught.  If there is no catch, the umpire will NOT provide a verbal indication of “no catch.” If the plate umpire is unsure, he will immediately point at the field umpire who will either call “CATCH, BATTER IS OUT” or will point at the ground, thus indicating that the ball touched the ground before being caught.

A strike that bounces to the catcher qualifies as a “dropped third strike" even if the catcher "cleanly catches" the ball off the bounce. For a ball to be "cleanly caught," it must not touch the ground or be trapped against the catcher's body.

If the runner does not immediately advance toward first and the catcher does not immediately attempt a tag or complete a force out, then NO OUT is recorded until:

1)  The batter departs the playing field (e.g., steps onto dugout floor);
2)  Sufficient time passes such that the runner could have entered the dugout.

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