Nationals set on hearth by odd ‘rule of 4’ as Pirates rating regardless of putting in doubles finish of halftime

You never know what you’ll see on the football field on any given day, and Wednesday afternoon the rare “fourth type rule” was applied in the mid-season final. Citizens of Washington and Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park (GameTracker).

The setting: Pittsburgh had runners-up (Hoy Jun Park) and third (Jack Suwinski) with a second in the fifth round when Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a soft lane shot ahead of first-timer Josh Bell. Park and Suwinski both make contact, Bell makes a catch, then throws down to third so the card can be applied to Park, who didn’t tag in second. Here is the play:

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Bell caught one, then Park was tagged for another to complete the doubles match that ended the main period. The confusion stems from Suwinski. He passes the disk without tagging in the third base and runs Cardinal number despite not tagging. That’s because the Nation never called on Suwinski to leave early.

This is covered in MLB Rule 5.09(c)., which covers appeal plays and is colloquially known as the “fourth drop rule”. From the rule book:

(c) Game of Appeal

Any runner will be called out, on appeal, when:

(1) After catching the balloon, he cannot re-edit his original sole before he or his original sole is tagged;

Any claim under this rule must be made before the next throw, or any play or attempt at play. If an infraction occurs during a match at the end of a half, an appeal must be made before the defending team leaves the field of play.

The national team players all left the field before the team could appeal. Suwinski left third base early (which he apparently did), so Washington lost its chance to appeal. Suwinski’s runs count even though he was never tagged at a third facility on the Hayes route driveway. The on-field umpires checked with the replay team in New York to confirm the rule.

Had the Nationals appealed in time, Suwinski was called out and his run would not have been counted, and he would have been “fourth” in the inning. Alas, the fourth inning doesn’t carry over to the next or anything like that. It’s just a rarely used rule question. It almost happened on Wednesday, but the Nationals didn’t appeal in time and ended up losing the game with ease.

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