Hey, Blue! – There’s Nothing Automatic about a Bunt-Strike
This month, we will explain the proper way to interpret a bunt attempt and what constitutes a bunt-strike. The situations described below are applicable in Little League Baseball® Major Division and Teenage Divisions.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the pitcher begins his delivery to home plate. As he starts his motion, the batter moves into a bunting stance. The batter holds the bat over home plate as the pitch tracks high out of the strike zone. The batter makes no attempt to move the bat at all and the umpire rules the pitch a “ball.” The manager of the team in the field asks, and is granted, time so that he can get an explanation from the home-plate umpire as to why he called the pitch a ball when the batter never moved the bat out of the strike zone. The manager claims that since the batter did not pull the bat out of the strike zone while in the bunting position, it’s an automatic strike. Is the manager correct to challenge the umpire’s call?
To explain the rule, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® Rulebook. Under the definition of “bunt,” a bunt is a batted ball not swung at, but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly. The mere holding of the bat in the strike zone is not an attempted bunt.
If no attempt is made to make contact with the ball outside the strike zone while in the bunting stance, it shall be called a ball. The batter must offer at the pitch for it to be a strike.