With one out and no runners on base in the fifth inning of a Little League (Major) Division baseball game, a batter draws a base on balls. After reaching first base, the manager of the offensive team asks for, and is granted, time. He proceeds to insert a special pinch-runner into the game for the player who had just walked. After the special pinch-runner is announced and replaces the runner at first base, the manager of the defensive team approaches the home plate umpire. The manager of team on defense states that this was the second time that the opposition has inserted a special pinch-runner for the same player. Upon review of the lineup card, the home plate umpire confirms the improper substitution, and the manager wants to know: is there a penalty?


Once the improper substitution is identified, time is called (if the ball has already been put back in play), and the proper player is returned to the base with no penalty assessed. According to the Little League Baseball® Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies – Rule 7.14 – Once each inning a team may utilize a player who is not in the batting order as a special pinch-runner for any offensive player. A player may only be removed for a special pinch-runner one time during the game. The player for whom the pinch-runner runs is not subject to removal from the lineup. If the pinch-runner remains in the game as a substitute defensive or offensive player, the player may not be used again as a pinch-runner while in the batting order. However, if removed for another substitute, that player or any player not in the line-up is again eligible to be used as a pinch-runner.

Note 1: This rule does not apply if the local league adopts the continuous batting order. See Rule 4.04.

Note 2: During tournament play starting in 2023, all Tournament Teams (except for those in the Senior Division) must adopt a policy of a continuous batting order that will include all players on the team affidavit present at the start of the game, to appear in the batting order. Each player is required to bat in his/her respective spot in the batting order. All players are considered “starters” meaning that the special pinch-runner is no longer a substitution option during tournament games. A tournament team may permit a “courtesy runner” for the catcher and/or pitcher of record when there are two (2) outs. Utilizing continuous batting order, the courtesy runner may be in the team’s batting order and must be the player in the batting order who made the last out.