Batter and runners think it’s ball 4

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May 18, 2023
19
3
NFHS rules
1 out with runners on 1st & 2nd. Count is 2-2 but has been a long at bat with several fouls. At some point the scoreboard operator accidentally puts up a 3rd ball. Next pitch is a ball, the batter and both runners start to advance as if it‘s a walk. The plate ump stops the batter after a couple steps toward 1st. The base coaches go to hold up the jogging baserunners but they are already in no man’s land so we yell for them to run/advance. The catcher attempts to throw out our slower runner going to 2nd, but she is safe. The coach of the team in the field claims that the batter tried to deceive his fielders by taking a step toward 1st and should be awarded an automatic strike, which would have led to a K. All 3 umps agree that it is just ball 3 and all runners stay advanced.
What is the correct ruling?
 
May 27, 2022
420
63
I would have to look it up, but I believe this was in the case book a few years ago. Basically, this is a legal play.

HOWEVER, if the umpire believes the runners went on purpose (IE, they were coached to do it), the Umpire should warn the coach on first (or second) time it happens and restrict the batter/runner and coach to the dugout the next time it happens.

I remember because one of my daughter's coaches actually coached the team to do that and (a few years later) I found the interpretation and pointed it out to him.

It did happen to my daughter one in a D2 College game. Totally by accident, but goes down as a stolen base and then the batter/runner comes back to the plate to finish their at bat.
 
Mar 1, 2013
428
63
Definitely an "everyone should know the game situation" here. I love that @Rolling Hard has a practiced defense for this. It's frustrating as an ump watching the "cheap" bases/runs because of something that is not specifically against the rules, but in "my day" would earn the next batter a fastball in the ribs (I do NOT condone this and if I think you're throwing at the batter on purpose, you're ejected).

One team my oldest played on a zillion years ago would get a runner on first and the next batter would always set up way back in the box and dramatically draw their bat slowing in the line of sight for the catcher to try to "legally" disrupt any pick off/throw down on the steal. They never touched the catcher and never actually offered at any pitch, but the runner usually got to 2nd safely and it often either had a passed ball or just a late throw. It seemed simple enough to set up a pitch out on these situations and nail the runner, but I wasn't the opposing coach.

You don't see these kinds of antics much above community 16u because they frankly don't work against well trained teams.
 

marriard

Not lost - just no idea where I am
Oct 2, 2011
4,323
113
Florida
NFHS rules
1 out with runners on 1st & 2nd. Count is 2-2 but has been a long at bat with several fouls. At some point the scoreboard operator accidentally puts up a 3rd ball. Next pitch is a ball, the batter and both runners start to advance as if it‘s a walk. The plate ump stops the batter after a couple steps toward 1st. The base coaches go to hold up the jogging baserunners but they are already in no man’s land so we yell for them to run/advance. The catcher attempts to throw out our slower runner going to 2nd, but she is safe. The coach of the team in the field claims that the batter tried to deceive his fielders by taking a step toward 1st and should be awarded an automatic strike, which would have led to a K. All 3 umps agree that it is just ball 3 and all runners stay advanced.
What is the correct ruling?

99.9999% of the time this is just a live ball, runners were at risk at being put out and the batter just returns to face the next pitch if it is not a 3rd out somewhere.
The only time this is anything else is if the umpire 100% believes this was intentional. And by 100% I mean, 100%. Not I think they are doing this - not 80% certain - 100% certain. And as you are not a thought reader, you can normally only do this because the coaches give it away.

I saw this in a HS tournament game I was watching - after it happened, the coaches all high-fived each other and one of them said "I knew that would work"... idiot. Umpires immediately called it, and then went ahead and tossed the coach when they argued it.

This can also be repeated behavior (probably after a warning in a game) but more likely because it becomes known that a coach is doing this. Happened once locally - word got back that one of the local HS coaches was bragging he was doing this (which was totally in line with how he behaves) and the umpire group were informed. Happened again next game, out was called (and runners returned) and he did the whole 'pretending he wasn't doing this' dance these sorts of coaches do.
 
May 27, 2022
420
63
99.9999% of the time this is just a live ball, runners were at risk at being put out and the batter just returns to face the next pitch if it is not a 3rd out somewhere.
The only time this is anything else is if the umpire 100% believes this was intentional. And by 100% I mean, 100%. Not I think they are doing this - not 80% certain - 100% certain. And as you are not a thought reader, you can normally only do this because the coaches give it away.

I saw this in a HS tournament game I was watching - after it happened, the coaches all high-fived each other and one of them said "I knew that would work"... idiot. Umpires immediately called it, and then went ahead and tossed the coach when they argued it.

This can also be repeated behavior (probably after a warning in a game) but more likely because it becomes known that a coach is doing this. Happened once locally - word got back that one of the local HS coaches was bragging he was doing this (which was totally in line with how he behaves) and the umpire group were informed. Happened again next game, out was called (and runners returned) and he did the whole 'pretending he wasn't doing this' dance these sorts of coaches do.

Who did you call the out on / what for?
 

marriard

Not lost - just no idea where I am
Oct 2, 2011
4,323
113
Florida
Who did you call the out on / what for?
Fortunately I have never had to make the call myself, but both times it was called interference by the batter (note not batter-runner) and the batter was declared out (runners all return).

I can see an the idea of calling it on the coach or using an unsportsmanlike justification and perhaps calling runner closest to home out, but since this is a batter action (even it was coached), then it makes sense to me at least to call it there.

Not aware of a case ruling - hope there isn't one. Hopefully this remains truly rare bush league behavior.
 
May 18, 2023
19
3
Totally by accident, but goes down as a stolen base and then the batter/runner comes back to the plate to finish their at bat.
This is what I assumed. It was most definitely on accident and not coached. So I guess we just lucked out. ?‍♂️
 

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