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Old Mon May 09, 2022, 12:06pm
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Throwing to Unoccupied base interpretation

Our league has had a lot of issues with getting umpires (some of the behavior I dont blame folks not wanted to do the games) had a situation with coach in our final game last week

Runners at 1st and 3rd - as it is still legal in HS, we ran the old 31 pick, fake to 3rd check 1 etc. So their coach throws a fit, not that the 31 is a balk, but that he claimed our pitcher when he lifted his leg and everyone yelled runner instead of stepping to 3b, actually turned and threw to 2B.

So first of all, the game has the live feed on Game Changer - I went back and watched it and I knew he did not do anything close to what he was saying, and the video 100% confirmed this. I tried to explain to him that even if he had done what this coach claimed he did (which he clearly did not) the whole "throwing to an unoccupied bag" has a bit of gray in how one might interpret the rule. Just curious if in case book somewhere this is better clarified. the 3 situations where you can throw to unoccupied
1. Step off -
2. For purpose of appeal if play before involved tag up etc.
3. Making a play on the runner - and this is the one that gets tricky IMO.

Its No.3 that I think has some gray to it. So in the scenario above with my pitcher. If when he lifts his leg - if the runner takes off, obviously he can do the fake to 3rd land towards 3 separate ball glove etc - not throw then turn and throw to 2B (which is what my pitcher did)

However, if he has not committed toward 3B yet - and he hears "Runner" meaning he is stealing - could he actually turn and throw to 2B since he is making a play on a stealing runner? Have seen this a lot in travel ball, actually saw someone lose $100 protest on this - not exact but runner at 2B took off when leg went up, pitcher either was gonna pick or just really great balance and react and threw directly to 3B - I though 100% for sure it was a balk for throwing to unoccupied base, as did the coach who protested - protest lost - ruling was not a balk as was making play on stealing runner

I would think that if the runner leaves after or as the pitcher is starting his motion (as our taught to do on a steal) that it should be a balk - if he takes off before P does anything, then OK - but as it was called when I saw the protest - that was not the case, which is what I was trying to tell the other coach on Friday, that its not as clear as he thinks it might be.
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Old Tue May 10, 2022, 05:09am
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Disclaimer: I only know OBR, not Fed.

If a runner is attempting to advance to a base, a throw or feint to that base is almost certainly enough to be called "making a play" on that runner.

Under OBR, a pitcher turning toward 1B or 3B does not create an obligation to step toward that base; he is free to continue turning and throw to 2B (assuming the throw to 2B is otherwise legal.) I'd imagine it's the same in Fed, but considering that fakes to third are legal there, the coach has even less of a leg to stand on.
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Old Tue May 10, 2022, 07:54am
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Originally Posted by parrothead View Post
However, if he has not committed toward 3B yet
That's the key right there --not whether R1 leaves before or after F1 starts any move or anything else.

As a practical matter, it's very difficult for F1 to have in his head he's doing 3-1 and then switch his movements smoothly enough to make a throw to second.

Case 6.2.4: R1, R3. F1 stretches and comes set. He then swings his entire nonpivot foot behind the back edge of the pitcher's plate, steps toward second and (a) throws the ball to second in an attempt retire R1 who is advancing there or (b) feints a throw to second to drive R1 back to first, who has neither attempted nor feinted and advance to second. Ruling: in (a), this is legal. In (b) it is a balk.

(from the 2017 case book, so the number might be different.

Last edited by bob jenkins; Tue May 10, 2022 at 07:57am.
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Old Wed May 11, 2022, 10:39am
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Thanks for the replies - it was beyond baffling as I knew what the coach was claiming with regards to what our P had done was WRONG, confirmed 100% by video in the GC feed, I have pics of step land spin - so not sure where he could even remotely think that our P did a spaghetti move to 2B, but oh well.

Point I was making to him was that even if he had done what he claimed, that does not always 100% mean it was a balk - if he broke when leg went up before committed somewhere - that to me would fall into one of the three criteria for throwing to unoccupied base.
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