You Make the Call - How a Runner Establishes a Direct Line to a base
This month, we will explain how a runner establishes a baseline. The situation described below is applicable in all divisions of Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball®.
No runners on base, one out. The batter hits a line drive to right-center field. The batter-runner attempts to stretch the hit to a double, but when the center fielder throws the ball to the second baseman prior to the batter-runner reaching second base, the batter-runner stops and a rundown ensues.
After changing directions several times, the batter-runner is right on the transition line between outfield grass and infield dirt, halfway between first and second base. From there, the batter-runner runs straight to second base and safely acquires it after a failed tag attempt.
After the manager requests and is granted time, he/she suggests to the umpire that the batter-runner should be out for running out of the baseline. What is the ruling?
To make the proper call on this play, we reference rule 7.08 (a) (1) which states: Any runner is out when running more than three feet away from his/her baseline to avoid being tagged, unless such action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs, and is a straight line from the runner to the base to which he/she is attempting to reach.
In the scenario, the batter-runner’s baseline was a straight line from the transition line between grass and dirt halfway between first and second base and second base, when the tag attempt occurred. There is no violation and the batter-runner is safe. A common misconception is that the baseline is only a straight line between the bases. This is incorrect, as a runner’s baseline can dramatically change during the course of a rundown.