SITUATION - With the bases loaded, the defensive coach called for his infielders to play up to prevent any score. A ground ball was hit between the shortstop and third baseman with the runners going. One infielder dove for the ball and the other missed the bouncing ball and the ball hit the runner going from second to third behind them. The ball was called live and the defensive coaches were both frantic and frazzled as to why the ball was not called dead and the runner called out. Was this the right call?
RULES - The Official Rules of Major League Baseball cover this situation in sections 5.09(f) and 7.08(f).
5.09 The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when—
(f) A fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other than the pitcher; runners advance, if forced.
If a fair ball goes through, or by, an infielder, no other infielder has a chance to make a play on the ball and the ball touches a runner immediately behind the infielder that the ball went through, or by, the ball is in play and the umpire shall not declare the runner out. If a fair ball touches a runner after being deflected by an infielder, the ball is in play and the umpire shall not declare the runner out;
Rule 5.09(f) Comment: If a fair ball touches an umpire working in the infield after it has bounded past, or over, the pitcher, it is a dead ball. If a batted ball is deflected by a fielder in fair territory and hits a runner or an umpire while still in flight and then caught by an infielder it shall not be a catch, but the ball shall remain in play.
7.08 Any runner is out when—
(f) He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance. EXCEPTION: If a runner is touching his base when touched by an Infield Fly, he is not out, although the batter is out;
Rule 7.08(f) Comment: If two runners are touched by the same fair ball, only the first one is out because the ball is instantly dead. If runner is touched by an Infield Fly when he is not touching his base, both runner and batter are out.
OFFICIAL RULING - The umpire made the correct call. Baseball rules provide that the ball is live if the ball hits a runner after passing an infielder or deflecting off an infielder as long as another infielder is not behind the runner still trying to make a play.