Hey, Blue! – What’s the Red Flag for?
This month, we will explain and define the use of the red flag that indicates when a base runner leaves a base prior to the pitch reaching the batter. The situations described below is applicable in the Major Division of Little League Baseball® and below.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the visiting team’s pitcher strikes out the first batter of the inning, but then allows a single and two straight walks to load the bases. Following a mound visit from the team’s manager, the catcher gets set in the catcher’s box, and the pitcher delivers the pitch. In that instant, the base runner on second base breaks for third.
The batter lines the pitch to the shortstop, which hits off the glove and caroms on to the infield dirt before rolling into the grass behind second base. The hit clears the bases for an apparent three runs, but the batter-runner is tagged out sliding into second base for the second out of the inning. Prior to the hit, the base umpire dropped a red flag indicating a runner had left early. At the conclusion of the play, the home plate umpire calls “time.” He indicates that the “out play” at second base on the batter-runner stands, and then he states that the runs just scored are to be disallowed. Next, he instructs all of the runners who just exited the field to return to their respective bases where they were prior to last pitch. Before the ball is put back into play, the offensive team’s manager asks for an explanation as to why the runs do not count, but the out does.
The violation by one base runner shall effect all other base runners. Rule 7.13 (c) in the Little League Baseball® rulebook states that when a base runner leaves before the pitched ball has reached the batter, and the batter bunts or hits a ball within the infield, no run should be allowed to score.
Rule 7.13 (a) and (b) offers other scenarios where leaving a base before the pitch reaches the batters will result in base runners being returned to the base occupied before a pitch being delivered.
In the situation described above, the out recorded at second base involving the batter-runner stands, because it came as the result of the play.
Note: Umpires officiating In the Little League Baseball Major Division and below have among their equipment a red flag that is used to indicate when a base runner has left the base prior to the pitch reaching the batter. When any umpire from any position on the field determines that this infraction has occurred, the flag is dropped. Once the current play concludes, depending on the circumstances and outcome of the play, base runners will be returned to the base that was occupied at the time of the pitch or the closest to that base depending on the final position of the batter/runner.