Hunter Pence's triple-hit sparks rules debate

October 23, 2012, 6:46 pm
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The Giants' Game 7 victory over the Cardinals Monday at AT&T Park included a unique type of base hit, courtesy of Hunter Pence.

With the bases loaded, Pence swung at reliever Joe Kelly's first pitch and was jammed by the inside fastball. The force of the pitch cracked his bat but did not shatter it completely. As Pence completed his swing, the broken bat connected with the baseball two more times.

After the game, Lance Berkman made this observation:"It hit the bat three times; it was actually an illegal hit, but there's no way that you can expect the umpire to see that."

Even if the umpires did see that, Berkman's claim that the hit was "illegal" is not necessarily true.
Here are the official MLB rules, under section 6.05:

"A batter is out when..."(h) After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a secondtime in fair territory. The ball is dead and no runners mayadvance. If the batter-runner drops his bat and the ball rollsagainst the bat in fair territory and, in the umpires judgment,there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, theball is alive and in play;"That wording would seem to back up Berkman's statement, but there's a Rule 6.05(h) Comment that would seem to favor Pence and the Giants:"If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and ishit by a batted ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and nointerference be called. If batted ball hits part of broken bat in foul territory, it is afoul ball."

What do you think of Berkman's comments? Do you think he was right and the hit was technically illegal or is he being a sore loser that's misinterpreting the rules?

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