Japanese Baseball Game Ends on Walk-Off Infield Fly Rule

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2015

via YouTube

Monday's game between the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants featured one of the weirdest endings you will ever see.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Carp had the bases loaded with just one out. If the batter, Hiroshima's Tetsuya Kokubo, could find a way to put the ball in the air and hit it deep enough into the outfield, he'd win the game for his team.

Well, Kokubo at least put the ball in the air. He just didn't hit it deep—at all. Luckily for the Carp, that didn't matter.

Kokubo hit the ball straight up in the air, which should have led to the umpire signaling that the infield fly rule was in effect. That would've resulted in Kokubo being out regardless of whether or not the ball was caught. However, the ump never made the call.

The ball ended up falling in between the first baseman, third baseman and catcher just a couple of feet in front of the plate. With the runner on third heading for home, Giants first baseman Juan Francisco stepped on the plate for the force out, which would not have existed had the infield fly rule been in effect.

As Mike Axisa of CBS Sports writes:

The popup with the bases loaded and one out put the infield fly rule into effect, which removes the force regardless of whether the ball is actually caught. The runners are free to advance at their own risk, and the runner from third trotted in to score. Stepping on the plate did nothing -- the runner had to be tagged.

Knowing the rule, Hiroshima coaches immediately pleaded their case to the umpire. After some discussion, the umpires ruled that the runner was safe at home, giving Hiroshima a 3-2 walk-off victory.

[YouTube, h/t CBS Sports]