A runner’s interference call on a bunt that would have driven in an Oklahoma run wiped that run off the board for the Sooners, a major development in a scoreless game.
OU had runners on first and third base with one out in the 6th inning. Oklahoma’s John Spikerman, the bunter, was ruled to be in fair territory as he, Tim Elko’s glove at first base and the ball all converged at the first base bag.
The runners had to return to the bases they were on before the play, and the run was erased. Oklahoma ended the inning with a flyout to right field.
The rule was applied correctly, as ESPN game analysts Kyle Peterson and Chris Burke both agreed after the play. But the rule, where a runner slightly in fair territory is not only penalized for a poor throw on a close play but forces other runners to not advance due to no fault of their own, could use some tweaking, both analysts said.
Peterson had a point about the first base bag, which sits in fair territory, and the runner’s lane not being completely aligned.
The rule, as ID’d from the NCAA’s rulebook: A batter is out when “in running the last half of the distance from home plate to first base while the ball is being fielded to first base, the batter-runner runs outside the 3-foot restraining line or inside the foul line and, in so doing, interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, except that the batter may go outside these lines to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball; if the batter-runner is running illegally to first base and his being outside the lane alters the throw of a fielder, hinders or alters a fielder’s opportunity to field the throw or the batter-runner is hit by the throw that has been made in an attempt to make a play, it shall be called interference and the batter-runner is to be called out.”
“Exception– the batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot running lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base and for the sole purpose of touching first or attempting to avoid a tag. He may exit the running lane on his last stride or step if he has been running legally within the running lane up to that point. The batter-running is considered outside this 3-foot lane if either foot is outside either line.
“If the batter-runner has not touched first base at the time of interference, all runners shall return to the last base occupied at the time of the pitch.”