This one is really bugging me. First time I have seen it in live play.
I'm a coach of 13u-14u players, coaching my youngest of 3 sons, so have been coaching for 15+ years, and was an umpire in college for High School ball.
Situation: My team's runners on Second and First, 1 out, tied game.
- Second base runner has a wide lead at second. The pitcher has already tried to pick off the runner at second through two legal spin moves, the runner retreating to second base safe, all good there.
- Next 'pitch', the runner takes a wide lead with the pitcher in the set position, the right handed pitcher is in contact with the rubber, lifts his left foot, and spins to throw to second.
- Except the runner then breaks for third. The pitcher, while keeping his front foot in the air, then spins in the opposite direction and throws to third. During this process, the runner stops, (because one of the players yells "Balk" because of the 'double spin move", and the third baseman walks 3 feet and tags out the runner.
Our position was that it was a balk because the pitcher did two things: A) He threw to an unoccupied base, and B), while he was spinning to throw to second, his front foot crossed the rubber, so therefore- even while it was in mid air- he can't respin and throw to third... he has to go home or throw to second.
There was natural confusion, the umpire didn't really know, and in the end ruled it was NOT a balk, the runner's out.
It was a very close game, but we let it go. And lost (but no big deal, another game and the kids played well).
And then it really started bugging me, and I see in the OBR, that a pitcher can't throw to an unoccupied base when on the rubber, except to 'make a play'. But then there are other balk rules about the front foot going behind the rubber/plate, throws to second, etc.etc.
So... Myself, my coaches, and more importantly the players want to know... was this a balk?
Thanks in advance!