A Major League Baseball (MLB) partner league is trying out something very different to settle games that go into extra innings during the 2021 season.
The Pioneer League will not have extra innings and instead have a home run derby to determine the winner of the ball game if the matchup is tied after nine innings.
“Under the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives five pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit. If still tied after the first ‘Knock Out’ round, another hitter is selected for a sudden-death home run face-off until a winner is declared,” the league said.
The league is meant to take away some of the strain on pitching staffs. The league will also experiment with designated pinch hitters and runners.
“The Designated Pinch Hitter rule permits a player not having previously entered into the game to pinch hit for an eligible roster player who may then return to his defensive position for the remainder of the game, until otherwise substituted for. The Designated Pinch Hitter is thereafter ineligible to return to the game.
“The Designated Pinch Runner rule permits a player not having previously entered into the game to pinch run for an eligible roster player who may then return to his defensive position for the remainder of the game, until otherwise substituted for. The Designated Pinch Runner is thereafter ineligible to return to the game.”
A designated pinch hitter or runner can only be used once by a team per game.
“I’m thrilled to see these exciting rules changes implemented for this season,” Pioneer League president Michael Shapiro said in a news release. “The Pioneer Baseball League is committed to developing ideas that enhance the strategy of the game, protect the safety of our players and add to the fun and engagement of our fans. We believe this focus will help assure the future of the game among a broader and more diverse audience.”
The Pioneer League is an independent league made up of eight teams: Billings Mustangs, Boise Hawks, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors and Rocky Mountain Vibes.