The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Wednesday approved giving baseball coaches two video review challenges per game where the technology is available. The change will be effective for the 2019 season.

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee recommended expanding the use of available technology in certain situations to improve the chances that the correct call is made.

The following plays will be reviewable by the crew chief at his discretion or with the use of a coach’s challenge:

  • Deciding if a batted ball is fair or foul. The ball must first touch the ground or a fielder beyond the initial position of the first or third baseman.
  • Deciding if a batted ball is either a ground-rule double or a home run.
  • Any catch or no-catch ruling in the outfield or foul territory.
  • A no-catch ruling in the infield in some instances. With runners on base, a no catch within the infield can be changed to a catch only if it results in a third out. With no runners on base, a no catch within the infield can be changed to a catch at any time.
  • Spectator interference.
  • Deciding scoring plays at home plate inclusive of collisions (illegal and/or malicious slides) or time plays.

MORE: College baseball: 20-second playclock recommended

The following plays will be reviewable only by a coach’s challenge or at the crew chief’s discretion beginning in the last two innings of regulation and extra innings:

  • Force and tag-play calls at any base.
  • Calls involving whether a base runner passes a preceding runner; determining whether a base runner scored ahead of a third out; and upon an appropriate appeal by the defensive team, determining whether a base runner touched a base.
  • Plays involving a hit by pitch.
  • Deciding if a runner failed to retouch a base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught.
  • The umpire’s placement of runners following a boundary call.
  • Deciding if interference occurred on a runner’s attempt to break up a double play.

When centralized video review is used, the off-field video review official will be considered an extension of the umpiring crew and will have the ability to notify the umpires on the field that a review should be initiated. The video review official will be permitted at any time to initiate a review for plays included in the first list above. For the second list, the video review official can initiate review beginning in the final two innings of regulation and extra innings.

Other rules changes approved include:

  • Defensive players will not be allowed to block a base without possession of the ball at any time.
  • A batter cannot make a movement to intentionally be hit by a pitch. A player who leans or sticks a portion of his body to be hit by a pitch will have a strike awarded to the count, regardless of where the pitch is located.
  • Pitchers will not be allowed to fake a throw to third base and then throw to first. A balk will be called for this type of pick-off attempt.
  • Pitchers will no longer be required to throw four pitches on intentional walks. Instead, the defensive team can inform the umpire that it is walking the hitter.
  • Teams will be limited to six defensive conferences on the mound per game. Base runners will not be allowed to leave the bases they are occupying during a defensive conference.
  • To be considered in a wind-up position, a pitcher must stand with his chest and shoulders generally facing the batter, with the pivot foot on or in front of and touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher’s free foot must be touching or be behind the plane of the front edge of the pitching plate.
  • For a pitcher to be in a stretch position, the pitcher must stand with his chest and shoulders generally facing the respective foul line. The pitcher’s pivot foot must be in contact parallel with the pitching plate, and his free foot must be in front of the pitcher’s plate. It is permissible for the pitcher to turn his shoulders and face the batter while getting the sign and before bringing his hands together in the set position.
  • Any umpire ruling on intentionally hit batters cannot be argued.

Proposals not approved by the panel

The panel did not support a recommendation from the Baseball Rules Committee to add two visible 20-second play clocks. The rule would have become effective in 2020 in Division I and in 2021 for Divisions II and III.

In its opposition to the proposal, panel members cited feedback from the membership regarding the cost of installing the clocks, the fact that some NCAA teams play in off-campus facilities where they may not be able to add the clock, and not being convinced it will improve the sport.

While panel members supported a proposal regarding altercations, panel members had questions about a recommendation that would have ejected any team personnel, other than coaches, who left their positions, the dugouts or the bullpens at the time of a dispute. Those players or team personnel would be suspended from the team’s next game. Panel members would like to have more clarification about the proposal, particularly about players leaving their positions on the field.

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