Hey Blue, I have a Question!
Author: Operations Staff
With a runner on second base, a ground ball is hit to shortstop, but the ball goes through the player's legs into outfield. The runner, advancing to third base brushes the shortstop.
Can the runner be called out for interfering with shortstop, even though the ball was already in the outfield?
Local Little League Coach
RE: Local Little League Coach:
A fielder is protected while fielding a batted ball under 7.09 (j), which states in part … "It is interference by a batter or runner when the runner fails to avoid the fielder who is fielding a batted ball…," so the question becomes, when is a player considered fielding a ball, and when is he not.
A fielder is considered as fielding a batted ball during his first effort at fielding the ball and also any second effort provided the batted ball remains within about a stride of the fielder. For example, a batted ball that hits off the chest of a shortstop and falls to the ground is still being fielded by that fielder provided the shortstop can legitimately reach the ball without taking more than one stride. If a runner were to make contact with that fielder, while reaching for the ball in his second effort, the ball should be ruled dead and the runner called out for interference under 7.09 (j).
However, if a batted ball is not fielded cleanly and is out of the fielder's reach after taking a stride, then 7.09 (j) no longer applies. In the scenario presented, the ball has passed through the legs of the shortstop and is in the outfield when the contact is made. Thus, it would be inappropriate to rule the runner out for interference. Depending on how soon after the ball passed the fielder the contact with the runner occurred, the fielder could be called for obstruction as he is no longer fielding the ball and must be out of the way of the runner.
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