The implementation of a new rule to protect the pitcher in the Burnside Slowpitch League continues to be a work in progress.
The rule as originally applied awarded an automatic out to any batter that hit the ball through the pitcher's circle less than six feet (or below the top of the pitcher's head, depending on their height) off the ground.
However, a strict interpretation of the rule meant even a ground ball rolling through the pitcher's circle could be deemed an out. This of course gave rise to some disputed calls.
The latest adjustment has put much more discretionary power in the hands of the umpires. The interpretation of the rule now is that it's only an automatic out if the umpire believes the pitcher was in any danger from the hit. This removes any chance of rollers triggering the rule, but doesn't remove the possibility of disputes from either side. What one person considers being 'in danger' can be significantly different from someone else's opinion.
This month's featured game is a case in point. Several times during the game between Bud Light and ReMax, both teams questioned calls when they thought the batter should have been called out for a hit up the middle, but the umpire ruled there was no danger to the pitcher and allowed play to proceed. Many of the bigger hitters could be heard to grumble about the increasing limitations being applied to them in a sport where swinging for the fences used to be routine.
It seems this rule still has some growing pains to go through before it settles in.
Featured Game of the Month
Rule questions aside, the game between Bud Light and ReMax certainly featured everything you could ask for from these two standings leaders. Bud Light was under pressure right from the first pitch, with several of their players a no-show at the field. This didn't seem to hurt them too much, though, as they lead off the first inning with consecutive singles and a three-run homer. A subsequent single scored another run on a strong run from second that beat the throw to home.
However, ReMax answered right back in their half with two homers of their own plus some solid singles to push five runs across the plate.
In fact, home runs played a big role in the entire game. A three –run homer accounting for all of Bud Light's scoring in the second, as did a grand slam for ReMax in the third. ReMax again relied on homers for its three runs in the fourth.
After two shutout innings, Bud Light got back on the scoreboard with a two-run homer in the fifth, but by this point was trailing ReMax 13-9. They slowly started to gain ground, though, as the home runs started to work against ReMax. A solo round-tripper in the sixth put the leaders at the limit until Bud Light hit another one, which they didn't do despite sending almost the entire team to the plate in the seventh and scoring five runs to pull ahead 16-15. ReMax used three singles in a row and a fielding error to tie things up, but then put one over the fence for an automatic out that killed their momentum and sent the game to an extra inning.
Bud Light sealed its comeback in the extra frame, scoring another five runs, including a three-run homer. ReMax answered back with its own two-run homer and an earned run, but another automatic out on its next homer again stalled the team, giving Bud Light the 21-19 win.