SCENARIO: With runners on second and third base with one out, the OYB Majors division base coach at third was having a bad game and he thought there were two outs. A fly ball was hit to right field and he sent both runners running hard thinking a caught ball would end the inning and a dropped ball would score some runs. The right fielder caught the ball. The runner at third crossed home and went to the dugout. The runner from second was rounding third as the realization that it was only two outs and the runners should have tagged up. In the confusion he stood on third base as the defending team realized that nobody had tagged up. The defending team threw the ball to second base to protest the lack of tagging up and the field umpire called the runner out for the third out to end the inning.
QUESTION: Does the runner from third score when he didn’t tag up either?
RULING ON THE FIELD: Once the defensive team left the field the umpires went to the official scorekeeper, and then both coaches, to ensure that everybody knew the runner from third base was scored.
DETAILS: This play is much crazier than any of the fans, players, and coaches realized at the time because it actually became the difference in a one run loss game, that could have been negated had the defensive coach realized how the play would be ruled. The offensive coach who was having a bad day actually scored the winning run by the blunder of sending the runners with only one out. Why?
The unprotested runner from third scored long before the protest at second base to end the inning.
The defensive team could have followed their initial protest at second with another protest at third base. If they had made the second protest, then the third base runner would have been called out for the fourth out of the inning to negate the scored run (In reality, per MLB rules, the more favorable protest would have been taken by the defensive team for the third out of the inning).
WHEN DOES THE TIME TO PROTEST END?: From MLB 7.10 it states: Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play. If the violation occurs during a play which ends a half-inning, the appeal must be made before the defensive team leaves the field.
This is further defined... For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has left the field when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse.
Here is section 7.10 in its entirety. Pay special attention to the portions highlighted in blue...
7.10 Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when --
(a) After a fly ball is caught, he fails to retouch his original base before he or his original base is tagged;
Rule 7.10(a) Comment: Retouch, in this rule, means to tag up and start from a contact with the base after the ball is caught. A runner is not permitted to take a flying start from a position in back of his base.
(b) With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged.
APPROVED RULING: (1) No runner may return to touch a missed base after a following runner has scored. (2) When the ball is dead, no runner may return to touch a missed base or one he has left after he has advanced to and touched a base beyond the missed base.
Rule 7.10(b) Comment: PLAY. (a) Batter hits ball out of park or ground rule double and misses first base (ball is dead) he may return to first base to correct his mistake before he touches second but if he touches second he may not return to first and if defensive team appeals he is declared out at first.
PLAY. (b) Batter hits ball to shortstop who throws wild into stand (ball is dead) batter-runner misses first base but is awarded second base on the overthrow. Even though the umpire has awarded the runner second base on the overthrow, the runner must touch first base before he proceeds to second base. These are appeal plays.
(c) He overruns or overslides first base and fails to return to the base immediately, and he or the base is tagged;
(d) He fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to that base, and home base is tagged.
Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play. If the violation occurs during a play which ends a half-inning, the appeal must be made before the defensive team leaves the field.
An appeal is not to be interpreted as a play or an attempted play.
Successive appeals may not be made on a runner at the same base. If the defensive team on its first appeal errs, a request for a second appeal on the same runner at the same base shall not be allowed by the umpire. (Intended meaning of the word err is that the defensive team in making an appeal threw the ball out of play. For example, if the pitcher threw to first base to appeal and threw the ball into the stands, no second appeal would be allowed.)
Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent fourth out. If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage. For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has left the field when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse.
Rule 7.10 Comment: If two runners arrive at home base about the same time and the first runner misses home plate but a second runner legally touches the plate, the runner is tagged out on his attempt to come back and touch the base or is called out, on appeal, then he shall be considered as having been put out before the second runner scored and being the third out. Second runners run shall not count, as provided in Rule 7.12.
If a pitcher balks when making an appeal, such act shall be a play. An appeal should be clearly intended as an appeal, either by a verbal request by the player or an act that unmistakably indicates an appeal to the umpire. A player, inadvertently stepping on the base with a ball in his hand, would not constitute an appeal. Time is not out when an appeal is being made.
SO WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE?
PROTEST THIRD BASE - The defending team could have made their initial protest at third base to negate the scored run and eliminate all doubt without worrying about the runner from second base.
PROTEST BOTH BASES - The defending team could have made their protest at second base and then made the protest at third base. Both would have been successful and then according to 7.10 “If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage.”
The moment that the pitcher and the infielders crossed the first base line heading to the first base dugout, then the time for protest was over and the runner from third was scored.
Those interested will also find section 4.09 of the MLB rules very interesting. The exact scenario is not in the examples, but there are some near scenarios...
4.09 HOW A TEAM SCORES.
(a) One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning. EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.
(b) When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base.
Rule 4.09(b) Comment: An exception will be if fans rush onto the field and physically prevent the runner from touching home plate or the batter from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the base because of the obstruction by the fans.
PENALTY: If the runner on third refuses to advance to and touch home base in a reasonable time, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player and order the game resumed. If, with two out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player, and order the game resumed. If, before two are out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the run shall count, but the offending player shall be called out.
Rule 4.09 Comment: Approved Ruling: No run shall score during a play in which the third out is made by the batter-runner before he touches first base.
Example: One out, Jones on second, Smith on first. The batter, Brown, hits safely. Jones scores. Smith is out on the throw to the plate. Two outs. But Brown missed first base. The ball is thrown to first, an appeal is made, and Brown is out. Three outs. Since Jones crossed the plate during a play in which the third out was made by the batter-runner before he touched first base, Jones run does not count.
Approved Ruling: Following runners are not affected by an act of a preceding runner unless two are out.
Example: One out, Jones on second, Smith on first, and batter, Brown, hits home run inside the park. Jones fails to touch third on his way to the plate. Smith and Brown score. The defense holds the ball on third, appeals to umpire, and Jones is out. Smiths and Browns runs count.
Approved Ruling: Two out, Jones on second, Smith on first and batter, Brown, hits home run inside the park. All three runs cross the plate. But Jones missed third base, and on appeal is declared out. Three outs. Smiths and Browns runs are voided. No score on the play.
Approved Ruling: One out, Jones on third, Smith on second. Batter Brown flies out to center. Two out. Jones scores after catch and Smith scores on bad throw to plate. But Jones, on appeal, is adjudged to have left third before the catch and is out. Three outs. No runs.
Approved Ruling: Two out, bases full, batter hits home run over fence. Batter, on appeal, is declared out for missing first base. Three outs. No run counts.
Here is a general statement that covers:
When a runner misses a base and a fielder holds the ball on a missed base, or on the base originally occupied by the runner if a fly ball is caught, and appeals for the umpires decision, the runner is out when the umpire sustains the appeal; all runners may score if possible, except that with two out the runner is out at the moment he misses the bag, if an appeal is sustained as applied to the following runners.
Approved Ruling: One out, Jones on third, Smith on first, and Brown flies out to right field. Two outs. Jones tags up and scores after the catch. Smith attempted to return to first but the right fielders throw beat him to the base. three outs. But Jones scored before the throw to catch Smith reached first base, hence Jones run counts. It was not a force play.