Ask the Ump!


QUESTION: In high school, baseball and softball, runner on first base; one out; batter swings and misses pitch for strike three. Catcher drops the pitch. Is batter automatically out? Can batter-runner attempt to gain first base on dropped third strike?

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ANSWER: Batter will be called out on this play with first base occupied and less than two outs. If runner at first was stealing or attempted to steal, he / she would still be considered as occupying base; hence, batter would not be entitled to advance on dropped pitch. (BB- Rule 7, Sec. 4, Art. 1, b) (SB- Rule 7-4-7).

QUESTION: Runners on second and first ; two outs, batter swings and misses pitch for strike three. Catcher drops the third strike and rolls the ball towards pitcher’s mound as batter leaves batter’s box headed toward dugout. Both catcher and batter apparently believe it is the final out of the inning. Is the ball live or dead? Is batter entitled to run on this dropped third strike? Is batter automatically called out for abandoning effort to advance to first base?

ANSWER: Despite first base being occupied, batter is entitled to advance on dropped pitch when there are two outs. This remains a live ball play unless the batter enters dead ball area/ dugout thereby giving up effort. It is the responsibility of the defense to put out the batter by tagging him / her or throwing to first to retire batter. Despite rolling the ball towards the mound, batter still maintains right to run to first; defense also has right to make the putout. (BB- Rule 7, Sec. 4, Art. 1,b) (SB- Rule 7-4-7; Rule 8-2-1).