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Scorekeeping Runs with the Third Out

Understanding when a run scores on the last play of the inning can prevent a lot of headaches during the game. I was actually at a game (I was scouting – if I was coaching I think my head would have exploded) where the two teams’ score books did not have the same score, and this was discovered two innings after the discrepancy was made. It took the umpires 30 minutes to resolve the issue, and even then nobody was sure what the actual correct score was. If one understands when a run scores when the third out has been made, then such mistakes will not be made.

As always, we start with what the ASA Rule Book says on the matter. Rule 5, Section 5B provides the guidance we need:
No run shall be scored if the third out of the inning is the result of:

1. A batter-runner being called out prior to reaching first base or any other runner forced out due to the batter becoming a batter-runner. On an appeal play, the force out is determined when the appeal is made, not when the infraction occurred.

2. A runner being put out by a tag or live ball appeal play prior to the lead runner touching home plate.

3. A preceding runner is declared out on an appeal play.

Rule Supplement #43 also provides some more clarification:
A run cannot score when the third out of an inning is a putout of the batter-runner at first base, or at another base if a preceding runner is forced because of the batter becoming a batter-runner.

Bases missed could result in a force out. FOR EXAMPLE, should the runner from first base miss second base on a base hit and, when properly appealed, that is the third out of the inning, any runs scored do not count. Remember, on an appeal play the force out is determined when the appeal is made, not when the infraction occurred.

An appeal play on a runner leaving a base too soon on a caught fly ball is a time play, not a force. When the appeal results in the third out of an inning, any run scored prior the appeal counts.

So in summary, whenever the third out is a force out at any base, the run does not score even if the runner crosses home plate before the out was made. This includes an appeal that results in a force out (like a runner missing the base to which she is forced). The run also does not count if the third out was a tag out on a runner not forced and the tag out occurred before the runner crosses home plate. Finally, if there is a successful dead-ball appeal, all runs scored on the play count (unless the appeal results in a force out).

It is good practice for the scorekeeper, whether keeping the official score book or not, to check with the umpire between each half inning to make sure that both agree on the runs scored during the previous half inning. It is absolutely vital for the official scorekeeper (usually the scorekeeper for the home team) to do so. Believe me, no scorekeeper wants to be in the middle of a scoring discrepancy.

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