HEY BLUE! What if LL Baseball Runner Leaves Too Soon on a Steal?

By Bob Downey, Hanover LL UIC 2014

Little League has several nuances for when a baseball player leaves the bases too early for a steal or lead.  The situation does not apply to Intermediate and above Divisions where leading is allowed.  It only applies for Major Division and lower.  Unlike many of the Softball associations’ rules, the runners are not automatically OUT.

Situation: Runners on First and Second; one out.

Runner on first base (R2) leaves base early and the pitched ball is hit by the batter. The ball is hit to Right Field goes to the fence. Both runners score, and the Batter-Runner is safe at Second base.

Ruling: Rule 7.13 (b):

When a base runner leaves the base before the pitched ball has reached the batter and the batter hits the ball, the base runner or runners are permitted to continue. If a play is made and the runner or runners are put out, the out or outs will stand. If not put out, the runner, or runners, must return to the original base or bases or to the unoccupied base nearest the one that was left; In no event shall the batter advance beyond First base on a single or error, Second base on a double or Third base on a triple. The umpire-in-chief shall determine the base value of the hit ball.

In our example, if the play is ruled a single and  an error, the Batter-Runner is returned to First base base because of the wording in the rule which states “…In no event shall the batter advance beyond First base on a single or error”.  With Second and Third base open, R2 has to be placed back at Second base and R1 returned to Third base since these are the “unoccupied bases nearest the ones that were last left”.

Had the hit been ruled a Double, then R1’s run would count and R2 would be returned to Third.

Had the hit been ruled a Triple, then both runs would count. 

If the batter did not put the ball in play, .  The runner or runners put out are OUT and all others runners must return to their original bases.

There is one other situation that makes LL Baseball unique. It is commonly referred to as the “POOF” rule.  I will save that for another article.