Little League World Series mercy rule and other game-play rules

·4 min read

Breaking down all the rules at the Little League World Series 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

With 20 teams in the running this year, the 2022 Little League World Series had the biggest field in tournament history. Still, one team was far and away the best.

Hawaii cruised to the 2022 title, winning its six games by a combined 60-5 score. The team’s undefeated run included four double-digit wins and a championship victory that only required four innings.

Why did the title game finish before the conventional six innings? Well, Hawaii’s dominance made it so the Little League “Run Rule” took effect.

Let’s take a look at the “Run Rule” and some other details from the Little League rulebook:

What is the mercy rule in the Little League World Series?

For lopsided games, Little League has a “Run Rule,” the preferred term rather than the “mercy rule” or “slaughter rule.”

If at the end of three innings, or two and one-half innings if the home team is ahead, one team has a lead of 15 or more runs, the manager of the team with fewer runs will concede the victory to the winning team.

If at the end of four innings, or three and one-half innings if the home team is ahead, one team has a lead of 10 or more runs, the manager of the team with fewer runs will concede the victory to the winning team. This took effect in the 2022 championship game when Hawaii took a 13-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning against Curaçao.

What are the rules for the 2022 Little League World Series?

Here were the changes to the Official Regulations, Playing Rules and Operating Policies for the Little League World Series:

Regulation IV(i): Mandatory Play:

  • This rule has been restructured to define “batting at least one time” as a player who enters the batter’s box with no count and completes that time at bat by being retired. The player can also retire as a better-runner or runner, score, reach the base safely or, after reaching the base safely, the inning or game ends.

  • In addition, a player must assume the position of a batter with no count and one of the following must occur: He/she is retired as a batter, a batter-runner, he/she reaches base and scores or he/she reaches base and the inning or game ends.

Rule 2.00, At-Bat:

  • A player must assume the position of a batter with no count and one of the following must occur: He/she is retired as a batter, a batter-runner, he/she reaches base and scores or he/she reaches base and the inning or game ends.

  • While at-bat, if the third out of the half-inning happens by putting out another base

-runner before the occurrence of any of the above scenarios, that batter has to return as the first batter in the next half-inning.

  • Also, when appearing offensively for the first time in a game, a player must remain in the game until an at-bat scenario occurs (refer above).

Rule 3.03:

  • When it comes to substitution, if a starting player has been removed for a substitute, they may only re-enter the game (in the same position in the batting order) if the following scenarios occur: his or her substitute has completed one time at bat (following the at-bat requirements above).

  • While at-bat, if the third out of the half-inning happens by putting out another base

-runner before the occurrence of any of the above scenarios, that batter has to return as the first batter in the next half-inning.

  • Also, when appearing offensively for the first time in a game, a player must remain in the game until an at-bat scenario occurs (refer above).

Tournament Rule 9(e):

  • This rule has been restructured to define “batting at least one time” in the same manner as Regulation IV(i): Mandatory Play (refer above).

  • While at-bat, if the third out of the half-inning happens by putting out another base

-runner before the occurrence of any of the above scenarios, that batter has to return as the first batter in the next half-inning.

  • Also, when appearing offensively for the first time in a game, a player must remain in the game until an at-bat scenario occurs (refer above).

Regulation VI(c); Tournament Rule 4(d):

  • If a pitcher reaches the Regulation VI(c) limit for his/her league age while facing a batter, the pitcher can continue to pitch until several scenarios occur. The new modification to the rule includes this as one of the scenarios: The pitcher is removed from the mound before the batter completes his/her at bat.

Regulation VI(d); Tournament Rule 4(e):

  • This note has been added: A pitcher’s pitch count for the purposes of day(s) rest threshold is determined by the first pitch thrown to a batter. Additionally, the pitcher may not start a new batter if the limit imposed in Regulation VI(c) has been met.