I decided to replace my answer with a more definitive rule book based answer.
NFHS Rule 7 Section 4 Art 1; A batter is out when:
b. a third strike is not caught, provided a runner occupies first base and there is less than 2 outs.
Note: if there are 2 outs or if no runner occupies first base, the batter is not out unless the third strike is caught. The batter is entitled to try and reach first base before being tagged or thrown out.
A runner stealing on the pitch has no impact on the above ruling.
goMo......that is an interesting idea, but I believe there is something in the rule book about a runner (or batter) who is already out.....I don't have a rule book here with me, so bear with me.......if runner who has already been declared out runs and subsequently 'confuses' the defense, and an error occurs, that is considered obstruction, or something of that nature. I'm sure the umpires out there may be better able to quote the rule.
No, as long as he doesn't interfere with a defensive player making a play on the ball, he can run to first. After all the defense is suppose to know the rules too and know that first base was occupied at the time of the pitch. This brings up another point though. If the pitcher is in the set position or going into the set position when the runner breaks for second and elects not to make a play on the runner and the runner reaches second before the pitcher starts the pitch delivery then the runner will have stolen second and first base then would not be considered occupied.
In baseball a batter that is out is considered not to be confusing the defense simply by running. The onus is on the defense to know the rule and situation. Yes there is a rule about a retired player interfering but this is not the case. Now in this situation the PU should yell that the batter is out, letting everyone know that he can't go to first. If the catcher throws to first it's his problem. First he should know the situation and two he should be trying for the lead runner. So he has messed up three ways. He missed the pitch, threw to the wrong base and didn't know he didn't have to throw the runner out.
grateful, I'm just saying the act of a batter running to first base on a dropped third strike is not considered confusing the defense. There are acts on defense as well as on offense that fall into the category of 'poor sportsmanship' and are illegal. For example, on offense, the on deck batter or dugout personnel intentionally interferring with a defense player either physically or verbally while he is trying to catch a foul pop-up or players or coaches yelling at the pitcher during his delivery to try to distract him. As for the defense you can have verbal obstruction such as a player yelling 'get back, get back' to make a runner think a ball hit to the outfield is caught when it isn't or a player faking a tag when the ball is actually not being thrown to him. One just has to use good judgement in making these calls. Good Sportsmanship is still suppose to be taught and used in high school athletic events.
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