The Little League® International Tournament is a fun and exciting time, but it’s also important for managers and coaches to know the rules. To assist tournament managers and coaches, the Little League Tournament Committee in Williamsport, Pa., has compiled a list of questions and provided answers to some of the more common situations and scenarios involving the new and adjusted tournament rules in effect for the 2018 tournament season.
Margie from Tennessee – Have there been any changes regarding player substitutions in tournament games?
Little League – There have been no revisions to the tournament’s substitution rule. Tournament Rule 10 states that in all divisions of Little League Baseball and Softball below the Senior Division, a player in the starting line-up who has been removed for a substitute may re-enter the game, in the SAME position in the batting order, provided: 1 — His or her substitute has met the mandatory play requirement of one completed time at bat and; 2 – playing defensive for a minimum of six (6) consecutive outs. Note that the Senior Division does not require Mandatory Play.
Junior Divisions and below: Note that a starter – on a team with 12 or fewer rostered players – when removed from the game before meeting mandatory play, must complete the required mandatory play [six (6) consecutive outs and one time at bat] when re-entered into the game. Review this rule and all of the other rule and regulation changes that are in effect for the 2018 tournament season on the Tournament Resources page on LittleLeague.org. Keep in mind that the substitution rule differs slightly by baseball and softball division, and if a player is a pitcher or position player at the time of removal or replacement. Keep in mind that any team that rosters 13 or more players is required to have only one at-bat per game to meet mandatory play.
Jim from Michigan – What are umpires looking for when checking baseball bats before a tournament game?
Little League – No matter what baseball division you’re coaching, it’s vital that you know which bats are permitted for use. For baseball, this means seeing how the new USABat Standard applies to your level of play. For example, either USABat Standard bats or BBCOR bats must be used at the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball and Junior League Baseball Divisions. At the Senior League Baseball Division, all non-wood bats must be meet the BBCOR standard. At the Little League level and below, all non-wood bats must be USABat compliant.
When reviewing your player’s bats, make sure they’re appropriately certified for play with either a USABat or BBCOR mark on the bat. Also, make sure that no bats are damaged, warped, or decertified.
In early May, Little League and other youth baseball organizations, were informed that the Easton Ghost X YBB18GX10 30/20 2 5/8″ (or the “Easton Ghost X 30/20 5/8” at retail) – previously approved by USA Baseball no longer meets the USA Baseball Bat Standard adopted by Little League Baseball®, and has been decertified. Any additional updates can be found on the Decertified Bat page on LittleLeague.org/BatInfo.
Any bats that aren’t approved for game use should not be brought into the dugout before or during a game.
Cory from New York – There is a new rule about “stealing signs,” how does that work during tournament games?
Little League – Per Tournament Rule 3, if in the judgement of the umpire a player/coach/manager/substitute is deemed to be stealing and relaying pitch selection or a location, it is considered unsportsmanlike, and said offender is to be ejected from the game.
Each umpire has the authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager, or substitute for objecting to judgement call, or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language. If an umpire disqualifies a player while a play is in progress, the disqualification shall not take effect until no further action is possible in that play. The stealing and relaying of signs to alert the batter of pitch selection and/or location is unsportsmanlike behavior. If, in the judgment of the umpire, this behavior is occurring, those responsible including any player(s), coach(es), and/or manager shall be ejected from the game.
Also, the Little League International Tournament Committee in Williamsport, has expanded it disciplinary powers to include imposing specific penalties if, in its judgment, any player, manager, coach, umpire, or other volunteer conducts him/herself in any manner, on or off the field, that does not positively reflect the high standard Little League holds for sportsmanship, citizenship, and decorum. This includes displays of unsportsmanlike conduct, “making a travesty of the game,” or violating any rules, regulations, or policies contained herein during the game, at the game site, at any other location or time related to the International Tournament. The Committee also reserves the right to impose any penalty the it deems appropriate if determining action is necessary to correct a situation brought to its attention, regardless of the source of that information. The decision of the Tournament Committee is final and binding.
Julie from Louisiana – Why do umpires inspect all player’s batting helmets, and the catcher’s mask and helmet?
Little League – Primarily, umpires are looking at the batter’s helmet and the catcher’s mask and helmet to make sure that each piece of equipment will properly protect the athlete wearing it. Per Rule 1.16, any modification of a batting helmet, including drill holes to attached additional equipment, makes it illegal for use in Little League games. For example, if a batting helmet is equipped with a cheek protector that was not packaged with the helmet when purchased, then the helmet has been modified and the manufacturer may void that helmet’s NOCSAE certification. Attaching a faceguard packaged with the helmet and affixed using pre-fabricated holes, does not nullify the helmet as long at the helmet and faceguard are NOCSAE certified and no additional modifications are made. To use a helmet affixed cheek protector during a Little League game, there must be manufacturer approval that the NOCSAE certification is still valid with the alteration. More information, including manufacturer letters, can be found at LittleLeague.org/HelmetAdditions.
Chet from Texas – I understand that umpires are now, in part, responsible for making sure tournament managers are notified during the game about potential mandatory play violations. Please explain when the plate umpire is required to act, and if violation of rule equals an automatic ejection?
Little League – According to Tournament Rule 9, Little League® Mandatory Play requires any player below Senior Division to participate in every game. This rule cannot be waived for any reason, unless the game is shortened in accordance with rules Tournament Rules 12 and 13 – Regulation game. Beginning with the 2018 Tournament, a manager’s failure/refusal to insert players into the line-up as outlined in the new rule shall result in immediate ejection of the manager and removal for the remainder of the International Tournament, without replacement. The umpire-in-chief or other individual designated by the Tournament Director in consultation with the official scorekeeper, shall advise both team managers, at the appropriate time as outlined in the new rule, of their obligation to insert all players who have not completed their mandatory play requirement.
Ultimately, managers are solely responsible for ensuring that all players fulfill the requirements of mandatory play, even if notification is not made.
Should there be additional issues, the Tournament Director should follow the appropriate Chain of Command.
Chelsea from Idaho – The local league I coached in during the regular season adopted a 15-run rule along with the 10-run rule. Which is going to be used during the tournament and in what divisions?
Little League – The 15-run rule was a local league option during the regular season, but during tournament games, it will be mandatory. Tournament Rule 12 states that if, at the end of three (3) innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior League: four innings], two and one-half innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior League: three and one-half innings] if the home team is ahead, one team has a lead of fifteen (15) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victory to the opponent. If, at the end of a regulation game, one team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victory to the opponent. NOTE: If the visiting team has a lead of fifteen (15) or ten (10) or more runs respectively, the home team must bat in its half of the inning.
Antonio from Nevada – Are there any changes to pitching regulations for tournament?
Little League – Yes, there are adjustments to the baseball tournament pitching rules. Baseball Tournament Rule 4 has been revised to state that no player can pitch on three consecutive days and must adhere to the Little League Pitch Count governing days of rest based on the number of pitches thrown. There are no changes to Tournament Rule 4 for Little League Softball divisions. Tournament Rule 11 addresses suspended games, stating any game in which a winner cannot be determined in accordance with the playing rules shall be resumed from the exact point at which it was suspended regardless of the number of innings played. A game called before the end of the first inning will no longer be disregarded or started over.
Tournament Rule 7 also impacts pitchers, as it reduces the number of visits a manager may make to twice in one inning or three times in a game for the 9-11-Year-Old Division and above for Baseball and Softball.
If you have additional tournament-specific rules and regulations questions, please email: support@LittleLeague.org.