SCAA Machine Pitch Rules
The Little League Rule Book shall govern play with the exception of the Machine Pitch rules states in this document.
Revised 8/12/2019, with minor updates 8/27/2020, 3/10/2021, 3/18/2021
Game and Length
1. Games will start at the scheduled time (6:30 for weeknights). Any team without 8 players ten (10) minutes after the scheduled game time, it will be considered a forfeit and played as a scrimmage. (game can/will still be played). If knowing in advance that you will have less than 8 players please reach out to the Commissioner and opposing Manager to work on rescheduling the game, or borrowing a player(s) if possible. Borrowing players- If borrowing from a team other than your opponent- borrowed player plays outfield only, bats last in batting order. The opportunity should be made available to all players eligible to fill in, not "cherry-picked". Division commissioner must be notified of all player borrowing at the time of the arrangements. If borrowing from the opponent for that game- the player(s) scheduled to bat last in each respective inning (the final batter of the previous inning) shall play outfield for the shorthanded team to fill in on defense only, and will return to their own team to play defense in the following half-inning (players only bat for their OWN team in this situation)
2. All games must be played as scheduled. In case of rain, darkness, etc., 3 ½ innings (if Home team is ahead) will constitute a game. Games called because of rain, darkness, or other reasons, and have not reached 3 ½ innings (if Home team is ahead) in length, will be rescheduled at both teams’ earliest availability and resumed from the point they were stopped. Unavailable players will be removed from the batting order. New players will be added to the bottom of the batting order.
3. All games will be 6-innings or 90 minute time limit. No new inning may begin after 1 hour and 20 minutes from the official start time. For the purpose of enforcing the time limit, the beginning of an inning will be immediately after the third out is made in the bottom of the previous inning. If after 6-innings or the expiration of the time limit and the game is tied, a tie will be allowed.
4. There will be a mercy rule in effect to end the game if a Team is ahead by 10 runs after 4 innings or 3 ½ innings by the Home Team, or if a Team is ahead by 15 runs after 3 innings, but not until every player in the batting order for both teams has had at least one at bat. If a 4th inning is started to give all players an at bat the inning will then be played in full.
5. Home team occupies the first base dugout and the Visitors will occupy the third base dugout. Visitor team will have the field until 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, Home from 15 minutes before the scheduled start time until the start of the game.
6. The home team shall supply (2) new games ball for use each game.
7. Home team manager is responsible for getting the diamond ready for play (setting up bases, lining field, chalking the batters box) and official score keeping. Trash removal is the responsibility of each team for their dugout and bleacher areas. Visiting team manager is responsible for post game field maintenance (raking, sweep/drag, etc). See “Field Maintenance” section of SCAA Baseball website for details.
8. Bats shall be kept in the enclosed “on-deck” area or other designated area during games, to prevent injury from players handling bats in the close confines of the dugout. All other equipment shall be kept in the dugout and clear of the playing field for the safety of the players.
9. Scorekeepers from each team should convene after the end of each full inning to confirm the current score. Any discrepancies should be researched and resolved immediately at that point.
- Pitching will be done by a spring-release pitching machine (Louisville Slugger Blue Flame) set on Pitching Height = 4 and Speed = 8. The pitching machine will be set up on the first pitching rubber (approximately 40’). The coach releasing the pitch must ensure everyone is ready before starting the ball in play. The coach must be in a direct line between home plate and second base and within a width from one side of the pitching rubber to the other.
- Prior to the start of the game, a coach from each team shall inspect the positioning and settings of the pitching machine for accuracy and consistency. It is suggested that both coaches agree on a common method of setting the ball on the pitching arm (4 seam, 2 seam horseshoe up, 2 seam horseshoe down, etc) for additional consistency. Once these pre-game settings are agreed upon, the ONLY setting that may be adjusted during the course of the game is the height adjustment screw at the end of the throwing arm. Any exceptions to this must be approved by the umpire and only for unique circumstances such as the machine being accidentally knocked over and then being unable to pitch a strike with its current settings.
- Test pitches before the start of an inning should be done to an adult catcher to ensure the machine is set properly before the first batter steps to the plate. COACHES SHOULD NOT ENCOURAGE PLAYERS TO “TAKE A PITCH” ONCE THE BATTER HAS BEGUN THEIR AT BAT. Doing so slows the pace of the game and instills a bad habit for players as they move up to player-pitch divisions.
- The player playing the pitcher position on defense must be in-line with the rubber and within 3 feet of the rubber either side.
- 3 game balls may be used if the home team supplies a “good condition” game ball from a previous game.
- Each batter will have 3 strikes or 5 pitches. If on the 5th pitch they hit a foul ball, they will receive another pitch from the machine. After the first time through the batting order, only 3 pitches per batter. Batters are encouraged to swing at hittable pitches.
- If the 5th pitch and only 5th pitch (3rd pitch if after the first time through the batting order) is not swung at by the batter and deemed "unhittable" by the umpire, the batter will receive one additional pitch. No additional pitches will be granted, except for a foul ball. This rule will be at the umpire’s discretion.
- If the pitching machine or coach is hit by a batted ball, the ball will be considered “dead”, the batter and runner(s) will advance 1 base.
- No bunting or walks allowed.
- All players bat in a continuous order.
- 5-run max per inning, except the 6th inning, which will be unlimited. All runs will be scored on an over-the-fence homerun.
- All bats must be Little League approved and either have a USA Baseball stamp (except USA bats labeled for “Teeball use only” may not be used) or made of solid one-piece wood.
- If a batter throws the bat, a TEAM warning will be issued. If the team that has been warned has this happen again, the player will be automatically out.
1. Helmets must be worn from the time a player leaves the dugout until they return. Warnings will be issued to a runner that intentionally removes his/her helmet during this time.
2. Base runners may not leave their base until the ball is hit. Umpire will send batter to base they would have made at the umpire’s discretion.
3. "Time" called by a player does not stop play. Machine Pitch is a developmental process and calling time does not teach the game. Umpires are expected to control the game and if the ball is in the infield and player has control of the game and showing awareness, the umpire should call time.
4. Coaches should respect the developmental process. Running bases because you can, is not the best course of action. Coaches should not send runners additional bases solely to provoke a throwing error. If the situation would not warrant an attempt at an additional base at the Majors level, it should not be attempted at this level either. Getting base runners to listen to coaches instruction and signals will help develop skills related to base running.
5. On an overthrow that lands in foul or fair territory, all runners may not advance beyond the base they are advancing to plus one.
6. Any ball in the outfield is considered live and the runners may advance as many bases as the defense will allow.
7. Runners do not need to slide, but must not show ill intent to draw/make contact with the fielder. We encourage a base runner to slide if there is a possible play at the base the runner(s) are advancing to.
8. No head first slides except going back to a base that was previously earned.
9. A base runner must turn right or maintain the course of the base path after crossing 1st base. As long as the base runner does not make an attempt to continue onto 2nd base, they will be considered safe if fielder attempts a tag. This rule will be at the umpire’s discretion.
1. Teams will have no more than 10 players on the field, Six (6) in the infield, and the rest of the players in the outfield. Outfielders must be standing in the outfield grass before the ball is hit.
2. If less than 10 players are present for the game, an outfield position should be left open. The catcher position must be played at all times to encourage development at this position.
3. Players may not play the same position for more than 2 innings per game. Managers should encourage player development by allowing the players to learn various positions.
4. Players must stay in the same position for the entire inning, unless injury.
5. Not all players are required to play in the infield, but to encourage participation, it is recommended. Players must play a minimum of 1 inning of the first 4 innings in outfield or catcher to encourage player rotation.
6. No infield fly rule will be used.
7. Outfielders may not make a play in the infield.
8. Plays at Home Plate – The catcher must be the primary fielder on plays when the ball is thrown to the plate. If the catcher is “cutoff” on a throw to the plate, the runner will be called safe (judgment call – no appeals).
Pace of Play
Several of the above mentioned rules are intended to speed the course of play so players get more at-bats and fielders see more action in the field. Coaches are encouraged to pay attention to the pace-of-play and do what they can to keep the game moving along and allow more at-bats before reaching the time limit. Warm-ups between innings should be kept brief, and the next inning's catcher should have their gear on ready to go before the third out is made, whenever possible.