A college baseball game between St. John’s and Fairfield ended on a seldom-seen catcher’s interference call. The infraction, while rarely called, was the right decision according to the rulebook.
The interference allowed a St. John’s runner to score from third base in the top of the 11th inning, giving the Red Storm a 5-4 lead. The game would end with that final score as Fairfield failed to plate a run in the bottom half of the frame.
In this bizarre instance, Fairfield catcher Tyler Kipp used his mask to corral the baseball on a pitch thrown in the dirt. The umpire saw the illegal use of equipment and quickly made the call.
Not often do you see a catcher balk but here’s how we took the lead! @NCAABaseball pic.twitter.com/ns4vyRH9n5
— St. John’s Baseball (@StJohnsBaseball) March 28, 2023
While the post refers to the play a “catcher’s balk,” it’s technically an interference call that goes down as an error in the scorebook. The result is essentially the same, though, as the runner from third base is able to advance.
Here’s the actual language of a “catcher’s balk” compared to the “catcher’s interference” we saw in this college baseball game.
Catcher’s balks can occur in one of two ways. (1) Obstruction when a runner attempts to steal from third base OR (2) leaving the catcher’s box early.
In this case, however, we go to the interference ruling which states:
“A fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched.“
Kipp seemed to recognize his mistake immediately after the fact as he quickly ditched the mask and grabbed the ball with his mitt. The damage had already been done, though.
St. John’s nabbed the win to move to 16-7 on the season. Certainly, an odd end to this college baseball game.
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