Runners on 2nd and 3rd, two out. Ground ball to shortstop, following order of events:

1) Runner from third crosses home plate. 2) Runner from second is tagged out by the shortstop for what is judged as third out. 3) SS, forgetting how many outs there are throws to first and the ball arrives, is caught with foot on the bag before runner gets there. 4) Batter-runner crosses first base.

What about in a situation where step 3 didn't happen?

1 Answer 1


In the current Official Baseball Rules (pdf), there is only one reference to a "fourth out" that I can find. Page 49, part of Rule 5.09(c) - Making an Out, says:

Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent “fourth out.” If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage.

In the case an appeal is made on a force out (i.e. the batter-runner missed first base) and the appeal is upheld, the appeal takes precedence and the run would not count.

This case is a little more complicated. Given that the batter-runner may stop or slow running because of the tag on the player running from 2nd to 3rd, I would guess that the force out would not apply and the run would count. I am having some trouble finding definitive documentation on that. But, Rule 5.09e - Retiring The Side says:

When three offensive players are legally put out, that team takes the field and the opposing team becomes the offensive team.

It seems to me like the third out in your scenario would end the inning immediately and the batter-runner would no longer be required to touch first base. Wikipedia disagrees with me, but there is no citation for the specific scenario.

If step 3 doesn't happen, then the run definitely counts. Third outs only negate a run if they are a force or happen before the runner crosses the plate. See rule 5.08a:

(a) One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning.
EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.

Since none of the three criteria apply, the run would score.

  • Really good answer. Just FYI this scenario is one of the most included in umpire training pamphlets. It is given to umpires training for accreditation to help study. Just know that if you aren't at least the college level umpiring god help you if this happens.
    – Coach-D
    Jul 16, 2016 at 6:16
  • 1
    Also going back to 20 years or so when I was studying for the NCAA badge... they had an example of what might be one of the most heads up running plays I ever heard about. Same scenario. Runner on third scores quickly, Runner on second is about to get tagged out (with apparently a very slow hitter) and he just smacks the glove. He is out on interference and inning is over - run counts.
    – Coach-D
    Jul 16, 2016 at 6:20
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    Thanks, @Coach-D. Nice to know my research was well-founded. This question was definitely a tough one.
    – Duncan
    Jul 18, 2016 at 16:42
  • Thanks for the answers, makes a lot of sense from a procedural sense but sadly not from a fairness of the game sense (but I'd expect this scenario to come up maybe once per decade at the college level or higher). As a followup question does the run count on the following scenario: 2 out, runner on third (who thinks there's one out). Fly ball to the outfield, upon first touching by an outfielder he starts running to home. Batter-runner touches first, then runner from third touches home, then outfielder secures the catch. (continued in next comment)
    – Ian
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:36
  • Out is made by the batter-runner but he's already touched first, but the fact he hasn't legally attained it is irrelevant, correct? So the run would count? Again, another once in a generation at any level (I'd say little league included) play that I'll probably never see.
    – Ian
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:41

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