Looking for some clarification on this situation that came up today:

There is one out and a runner on first base (R1). The batter hits a fly ball in the infield. The first baseman (1st) makes an attempt to catch the ball and it drops out of his glove. 1st picks the ball up and tags the batter/runner out as he runs up the first base line (before he touches first base). The batter/runner was called out, R1 stayed on first and we continued play with two outs now.

Is this the correct call? There was a lot of discussion as to whether R1 is still forced to second base on this play (allowing someone to tag him for a double play) or can R1 stay put on first base (as was allowed in our case)?

I know rule 7.03 b states :

If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner is forced.

Our situation is slightly different as the batter/runner never made it to first base before being tagged out.

Was the correct call made?

  • In field fly. Less than two out and a force on a runner?.
    – user1447
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 12:24
  • 1
    There have to be at least two baserunners for the infield-fly rule to be in effect. Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 16:12
  • Also wouldn't apply if it is more of a line drive or otherwise is unlikely to be caught.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 15:12

6 Answers 6


I think that rule 7.08e is the key here:

(e) He fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or the base, after he has been forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner. However, if a following runner is put out on a force play, the force is removed and the runner must be tagged to be put out. The force is removed as soon as the runner touches the base to which he is forced to advance, and if he overslides or overruns the base, the runner must be tagged to be put out. However, if the forced runner, after touching the next base, retreats for any reason towards the base he had last occupied, the force play is reinstated, and he can again be put out if the defense tags the base to which he is forced;

I interpret that is saying the force to second base is removed as soon as the preceding/following runner is tagged out. Therefore the lead runner is no longer in a force situation and may return to (or stay on, in this case) their previously occupied base.


Actually, the runner on first is allowed to take whichever base is available, even going back to first base if need be, regardless of whether the batter was forced at first or tagged out before getting to the base. Consider this scenario: Runner on first, one out. Batter hits a sharp ground ball to second base, runner on first is heading to second but stops short of the second baseman who is attempting to make a tag. Second baseman decides to throw to first to force the batter, then hoping to get runner in a rundown since he's still closer to first base than to second base. Right about the same time the ball arrives at the bag from the second baseman to force the batter at first, the runner on first gets the bright idea to head back to first to try to slide under the tag of the first baseman. If he gets back to the bag safely, he is safe. So now there are two outs with a runner on first, namely, the original runner on first who was off the bag but got back safely after the force on the batter was made. This is a real possibility and has happened, but it is rare.


My original answer was incorrect. Matt's application of rule 7.08e is correct; once the force is removed by tagging out the batter (the following runner), R1 is safe on either first or second and is not required to advance. It's a tricky situation all around, but R1 basically made the right call by standing on first; 1B would have to both muff the catch and let the batter reach on error to force R1 to advance to second.

If R1 had left the base and headed to second, that opens up a couple of DP scenarios; 1B could have caught the ball and tagged R1 returning to first, or could have muffed, tagged the batter, then thrown to second for a tagout or pickling of R1. If the basemen have some real cannons or the batter had given up halfway to first, 1B could have made it a force play at second and then forced out the batter back at first, but in amateur baseball pretty much any other scenario is more likely.


I can't find anything in the rules to back this up, but I believe the call was correct. If R1 was to start running to second just before the batter got to first, and the batter was tagged, then the batter would be out. If the batter hasn't gotten to first yet, there's still the possibility that R1 could start running, and R1 could theoretically make it safe.

In reality, this is just a player trying to grab a base when there wasn't enough time, the player on the base they were running to realising that they wouldn't make it and not bothering, and the active player getting out. The correct decision was made.


This basic play was very confusing in our game yesterday:

Bases loaded one out. I was at third. I made a diving stop and basically dove onto the base, but the runner was still there. So, the force at third made one out (the umpire didn't signal it), but what to do now? The bench told me to tag the runner, but my instinct was to throw to first because I thought the force at third took away the force at home, and the runner at third could now occupy the base. By the time I thought too much, there was no play at first. Strangely, the runner from third took off for home (thinking he had to run, which he should have done initially) with me standing there with the ball, so I threw him out at the plate. I'm just not sure he had to run. Double play. We all stood there for a few seconds and nobody knew the rule, if there is one.

  • Everything you said is exactly how the rules state. If you had thrown to first, the batter would have been out. The runner at third can definitely stay there, because the force was removed by you.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 18:32

I am not sure about all the answers. I still think the runner on first must touch second due to the original force. The difference is that he/she must now be tagged. The original force forces the runner to touch second base regardless. I imagine this is why in MLB we don't see runners stay on first base in this situation. This rule needs to be made more clear.

  • 1
    Hi and welcome. The reason that this does not happen in MLB is that it's very rare for a runner to get tagged out on his way to first. In the situation described, if a force is acheived at first (catcher to first, 2nd to first, whatever), the runner going to second does not have to advance and if he desires, may enter a rundown and either advance or retreat to either first or second. He is not forced from 1b because no one is now going to 1b. however, unless a force is acheived very quickly at 1b the runner going to 2b will almost always be safe at 2b because he only need travel about 70ft
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 12:58

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