We will explain a situation regarding the application of the Mandatory Play Continuous Batting Order rule (Tournament Rule 9) during the Little League® International Tournament. The situation described below is applicable in all divisions of Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® except for the Senior Division.
In the top of the fifth inning in a district tournament game, the home team is leading, 12-1, and has two players on its 13-player roster that have yet to get in the game. The home team retires the visiting team without yielding a run in the top of the fifth inning, ending the game due to the 10-run rule. The manager of the team that lost the game confirms with the official scorebook that two players on the winning team did not participate in the game on defense. With that information in hand, the manager of the losing team protests the game to the tournament director and the home plate umpire prior to leaving the field.
The home plate umpire, the tournament director, and a district staff member officiating the game, consult, and it is determined that there was no violation of the mandatory play rule. The manager chooses to exercise the right to ask the district representative to call the Region’s headquarters for a ruling from the Region Director. The Region Director supported the position of the game officials on site. The manager elected not to accept the Region’s position and directed the protest be heard by the Tournament Committee at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa.
The Tournament Committee, citing the Little League Rules and Guidelines, concurs that no violation of the mandatory play rule has occurred, and the outcome of the game stands.
Tournament Playing Rule 9(f) states there is no exception to the Mandatory Play rule unless the game is shortened by any reason. A game being shortened by the 10-run or 15-run is a valid reason. There is no 8-run rule in effect during tournament games. However, beginning with the 2023 Tournament Season, all Tournament Teams (in the Junior Division and below) must adopt a policy of a continuous batting order that will include all players on the team affidavit present at the start of the game, to appear in the batting order. Each player is required to bat in his/her respective spot in the batting order. A player may be entered and/or re-entered defensively in the game at any time, but is not required to do so.
The process followed by the manager was the appropriate procedure for confirmation or interpretation of a tournament rule or regulation. The order of succession begins with the staff on site, including the umpire crew chief, the tournament director, and the district staff representative (District Administrator or Assistant District Administrator). The request for further review is to be sent to the regional office for a ruling. A manager has the right to elevate the appeal or protest to the Tournament Committee at Little League International.