NATIONAL LEAGUE GROUND RULES
Video recordings or live feeds on BLL fields is for entertainment purposes only and shall not be used for game management purposes, pitch count verification, score verification, or umpire appeals. The BLL Board reserves the right to use video and audio evidence in its investigation into disciplinary matters.
1. Field Preparation, Pre-Game Warm-up, Field Shut Down
- 65 minutes before the game, the home team and visiting team split the cages at Jessamine and Tiras (for Bayland, the visiting team uses the cages 65 minutes before the game and the home team uses the cage 35 minutes before the game)
- 65 minutes before the game the home team warms up on the field if it is available.
- 35 minutes before the game, the visiting team uses the field if it is available.
- Teams are free to work out their own pre-game sharing arrangement such as splitting a cage and the field at the same time.
- Both teams should avoid touching any chalk on the field prior to the game.
- 5 minutes before game -- pregame conference with umpire.
- Before the game, the home team is responsible for getting the field ready for play.
- When there are successive games, the teams should allocate 5 minutes for the umpire pregame conference and then evenly divide the remaining time before the game starts for infield warm-ups for both teams, with the home team using the field first.
- There should be no soft toss or balls hit off a tee into the fence, please use the nets provided in the cages to hit into.
- When there are time restraints, the umpire may prohibit infield warm-ups for both teams.
- Managers shall exchange batting orders prior to the pre-game conference with the umpire. The batting order shall list the players’ jersey number and first and last names.
- After the game, the visiting team is responsible for locking up all equipment, watering the field if necessary, and covering in the mound and home plate with tarps.
2. Number of Coaches, Assignment of Dugouts
- During game time there will only be three (3) coaches allowed in the dugout area, one (1) manager and two (2) coaches.
- The home team will occupy the 3rd base side and visitors will occupy the 1st base side dugout.
- Coaches should be behind the dugout fence or in the coach's box.
3. Time Limit and Run Limit for Games
- No new innings will start after 1 hour and 30 minutes from the start of the game provided however that the game is official, which requires at least 4 innings be played or 3.5 innings if the home team is ahead. A game will not end immediately after the 3rd inning regardless of the 1 hour and 30 minute time limit and must go 3.5 innings if the home team is ahead or 4 innings if the home team is behind. A game may not go more than 6 innings. If tied at the end of 6 innings or the last completed inning according to the 1 hour and 30 minute time limit, the game ends in a tie.
- Spring Regular Season - Max 3 runs the first 2 innings, Max 5 runs inning 3 and on (33555) (Fall regular season – Max 3 runs every inning)
- In all innings, if last batter hits an over the fence home run then all runs will be counted
- The 10-run “mercy rule” of Little League Rule 4.10(e) does not apply in the regular season.
- At Jessamine Field a batted ball that hits the trees above the yellow line in fair territory shall be ruled a home run. A batted ball that hits the tree (down right field) in fair territory and lands in fair or foul ground or is caught by a fielder is a fair, live ball, unless it lands in foul territory on the other side of the fence, in which case it shall be a two base award, dead ball. A batted ball that hits the tree (down right field) in foul territory is a foul ball regardless of where it lands.
4. Batters -- No Fake Bunts and No Thrown Bats Continuous batting order will be used.
- All batters and base runners must wear protective helmets with full face masks or helmets with a properly installed C-flap covering the side of the face exposed to the pitcher.
- Batters are not allowed to show bunt then swing away. If a batter "shows" bunt, their options are: (a) bunt, (b) offer or not offer at the bunt attempt, or (c) pull the bat back taking the pitch. Penalty: the ball becomes dead at the moment of the infraction and the batter shall be warned if the ball was missed or the batter is out if the ball was hit. No runner may advance.
- If a batter throws or wildly slings the bat after hitting (or attempting to hit) the ball to the extent that his coach and/or umpire believes other players are endangered, time-out will be called and the coach will discuss the infraction with the batter. If it happens again, in the same game, the batter may be called out, prohibited from batting further in the game, or ejected (umpire’s discretion).
- The batter should not throw the bat toward the dugout after the batter completes the at bat (i.e. after the batter is walked).
Any player is eligible to pitch in a game, unless the player is subject to a rest requirement or the player has exceeded 25% of his/her team’s season total pitches (the “Percentage of Pitches Rule”). There is no limit to the number of pitchers a team may use in a game.
The following game-specific events also limit a player’s availability to pitch:
- Maximum pitches per game: The manager must remove a pitcher when said pitcher reaches the limit for his/her age group as noted below, subject to continuation, but the pitcher may remain in the game at another position (other than catcher, as noted below).
11-12 – Before HISD Spring Break, 65 pitches per day; afterwards 85 pitches
9-10 – Before HISD Spring Break, 65 pitches per day; afterwards 75 pitches
7-8 – 50 pitches per day
Continuation: If a pitcher reaches the limit imposed for his/her league age while facing a batter, the pitcher may continue to pitch until any one of the following conditions occurs: 1. That batter reaches base; 2. That batter is put out; 3. The third out is made to complete the half-inning.
Fall Ball rule: For regular season play in Fall Ball only, pitchers must be removed after the earlier of 35 pitches in a game (subject to continuation) or two innings pitched.
- Playing catcher: Any player who has played the position of catcher in four (4) or more innings in a game is not eligible to pitch on that calendar day. For purposes of this rule, a catcher receiving one pitch in a fourth inning constitutes having caught four (4) innings.
- A pitcher once removed from the mound cannot return as a pitcher.
- A pitcher may not pitch in two games on the same day.
The pitch count recorder must provide the current pitch count for any pitcher when requested by either manager or any umpire. However, the manager is responsible for knowing when his/her pitcher must be removed.
The official pitch count recorder should inform the home plate umpire when a pitcher has delivered his/her maximum limit of pitches for the game. The home plate umpire will inform the pitcher’s manager that the pitcher must be removed. However, the failure by the pitch count recorder to notify the home plate umpire, and/or the failure of the home plate umpire to notify the manager, does not relieve the manager of his/her responsibility to remove a pitcher when that pitcher is no longer eligible.
Violation of any section of this regulation can result in protest of the game in which it occurs.
Rest Requirements: Pitchers must adhere to the following rest requirements:
- If a player pitches 66 or more pitches in a day, four (4) calendar days of rest must be observed before the player is again eligible to pitch.
- If a player pitches 51-65 pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed before the player is again eligible to pitch.
- If a player pitches 36-50 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed before the player is again eligible to pitch.
- If a player pitches 21-35 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar days of rest must be observed before the player is again eligible to pitch.
- If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no rest is required before the player is again eligible to pitch.
Continuation: If a pitcher reaches a day(s) of rest threshold while facing a batter, the pitcher may continue to pitch until any one of the following conditions occurs: (1) that batter reaches base; (2) that batter is retired; or (3) the third out is made to complete the half-inning or the game. The pitcher will only be required to observe the calendar day(s) of rest for the threshold he/she reached during that at-bat, provided that pitcher is removed or the game is completed before delivering a pitch to another batter.
Percentage of Pitches Rule
In addition to rest requirements, pitchers must satisfy the Percentage of Pitches rule:
- Players that have exceeded 25% of their team’s season total pitches following the completion of a game are ineligible to pitch in their team’s next game.
- Team season total pitches shall be calculated at the end of each game. The league rep will maintain a joint spreadsheet documenting all pitching percentages from every player. All managers will have access to each team’s percentage totals. Pitch count totals will start at the beginning of the season and will include all exhibition games.
- Players that are eligible to pitch under this rule are eligible to start and complete a game at pitcher, subject to maximum pitches per game, regardless if 25% threshold is crossed from pitches thrown during such game.
Catcher: Any player is eligible to play catcher during a game, subject to the following exceptions:
- A player who played the position of catcher for three (3) innings or less, moves to the pitcher position, and delivers 21 pitches or more may not return to catcher position on that calendar day, unless the pitcher exceeded 21 pitches on continuation.
- A pitcher who has delivered 41 or more pitches is not eligible to play catcher for the remainder of the day, unless the pitcher exceeded 40 pitches on continuation.
- Practice tip: once a player pitches, plan on them playing other positions other than catcher to avoid confusion with the totals above. Also remember once a player catches for 3 innings, you should remove the player from that position to ensure eligibility to pitch if needed later.
6. Official Scorebook, Scoreboard and Official Pitch Count
- The home team is responsible for keeping the official scorebook and official pitch count and reporting the results to the League Rep. (scores, names of pitchers, pitches thrown by each pitcher, home runs, and no hitters pitched) within 24 hours of the completion of the game.
- The official scorekeeper for the home team shall keep the official pitch count. In addition, the visiting team and the home team each shall have an additional person from each team keep the pitch count.
- The Home team should keep the official book via the GameChanger app.
- The visiting team shall be responsible for operating the score board.
7. Runners -- Courtesy Runner for Catcher
- If the catcher for the next half inning is on base and there are two (2) outs or the hitting team may only score one more run in the inning per the applicable run limit, the catcher must be replaced with a courtesy runner (the player that made the last out).
8. Mandatory Play Rules
- Each player must start and finish each defensive inning played (subject to injuries or disciplinary action).
- No player may sit two (2) defensive innings until all players on the game roster have sat one (1) defensive inning. No player may sit two (2) consecutive defensive innings.
- By the end of the 4th inning, each player shall have played at least one (1) inning of infield.
- In the event one team starts the game with more players than the other team, the team with fewer players must rotate all players into an outfield position or bench at least once in a five (5) inning game. This rule applies if the same game is postponed to a future date due to rain or other issues.
- Unless the managers agree prior to the game, the Executive Committee of the League will only consider written requests from parents that their child not be required to play an infield position each game.
- In the event a team has fewer than 9 players, the team may request a pool player. Pool players will be picked from season pool based on a random draw. If player from opposing team is picked, another player will be chosen. Once pool players have participated, they will not be available until all pool players have been contacted. In playoffs the Player Agent will make an attempt to replace a comparable player from eliminated teams with League Representative approval. There is no player pool in the Fall.
- Player pool player(s) must play right field and bat last. If multiple pool players, they must all play outfield, starting with right field, then center field, then left field and bat at the end of the lineup. Pool players are not subject to mandatory infield play rules and they are not allowed to play infield.
- If a team has fewer than 9 players because of player pool limitations, when at bat the team with fewer than 9 players will be required to take an automatic out in the 9th batting spot. When in the field, the team with fewer than 9 players may, if the managers agree, borrow the opposing team’s last batter of prior inning to play in an outfield position.
- If these regulations are not complied with for any reason, managers will be subject to review and possible disciplinary action by the League, which may include suspension from League play. Opposing managers must object to rotation infractions at the time they occur so the rotation rule can be complied with before the game continues. Rotation violations will not result in any formal protests of any games. Failing to abide by these rotation rules will not change the outcome of any game but may result in manager discipline.
9. Intentional Delay or Otherwise Making a Travesty of the Game
- Causing players to intentionally perform poorly (including intentionally striking out, intentionally being put out, intentionally failing to record an out, or intentionally making wild pitches or throws) for the purpose of extending or shortening a game, or otherwise engaging in any action whose purpose is to manipulate the time or duration of the game (including repeated and unwarranted timeouts or replacement of players (including catchers), shall be considered making a travesty of the game.
- Willfully and knowingly disregarding the requirements of these Ground Rules and other applicable rules also shall be considered making a travesty of the game. In addition to ejection, additional penalties may be imposed if, in the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee of the Board of Directors of BLL, such additional penalties are warranted in light of the offending conduct.
10. Season Champions (Spring season only)
- Regular season champions will be determined by Win-Loss-Tie percentage records
- In the event of a tie in Win-Loss-Tie percentage records, regular season champion will be determined based on the following tiebreakers: (a) head-to-head results, (b) runs against over the entire regular season, then (c) runs for over the entire regular season
- Regular season co-champions are possible if tie cannot be broken based on the above tiebreakers
- All teams must play at least 12 regular season games.
- Standings are not kept for Fall ball but there may be an end of season tournament.
- A team may appeal a play after the ball is dead. To perfect the appeal, the manager may make the appeal to the umpire after the ball is dead.
National League Post-Season Tournament Rules
The following additional rules shall apply unless otherwise amended by the President, League Representative or the Vice President of Operations of the Board of Directors of the League, who shall be the Tournament Official.
- Except as reflected below, all games shall be played based on the National League ground rules and applicable Little League Rules (regular season), with no exceptions or changes.
- The first game of the day will start when the schedule indicates; subsequent games will start 20 minutes after the conclusion of the preceding game or at the time the schedule indicates, whichever is earlier.
- Seeding will be based on regular season records (other than in the Fall, in which case the League Representative will determine seeding). In the event of a tie in season records, ties will be resolved by determining a winner based on (a) head-to-head results, if still tied then (b) runs against over the entire regular season, if still tied then (c) runs for over the entire regular season and if still tied (d) by coin toss.
- Highest seed will be home team (descending order with top seed #1, next #2, #3, #4, etc.)
- For double-elimination tournaments: the team undefeated in tournament play will be the home team regardless of regular season seeding for game one of the championship. Should the Visiting team win game one of the championship, they will be home team for if necessary second game.
- For tournament games, no new inning will start after 1:30, with no drop dead time (finish the last inning started), subject to the game being an official game pursuant to Little League Rule 4.10 and all of the above language in Section 3 above. For the championship and if-necessary championship games, there shall be no time limits.
- For tournament games, runs will be limited to five (5) per half-inning for the first three (3) innings, with no limit thereafter. For the championship and if-necessary championship games, there shall be no run limit for any inning.
- The mercy run rule defined in Little League Rule 4.10(e) is in effect for the tournament.
- All games shall be completed before 10:00pm, and shall be considered final if it has become a regulation game under Little League Rule 4.10(c); provided that no game shall end in a tie. Tie games shall be continued until a winner is determined in accordance with the Rules as further described above in Section 3.
- The same “mandatory play rules” and pitching/catching rules exist as in the regular season ground rules.
- Player pool – In the event a team has fewer than 9 players, team may request a pool player in accordance with regular season ground rules. If team advances and still needs a player to field 9, pool will be limited to players whose teams have been eliminated from tournament.
Revised January 2023