Tied after 10? FCBL will try HR derby

NASHUA – Late-night, extra-inning marathons for the Nashua Silver Knight at Holman Stadium will be a thing of the past.

That’s because of a historic rule created by the Futures Collegiate League in which regular season games tied after 10 innings decided by a timed home run derby.

The change also includes a point system for league standings. It was first discussed at the annual league meetings in the Holman Stadium suites back in November as a way of preserving pitchers’ arms, which college coaches have always been concerned about when it comes to sending their players to summer teams.

"We wanted to make sure that we could come up with a way to protect our pitchers," FCBL commissioner Chris Hall said in a statement on the FCBL website. "Each year our teams struggle to find pitching that can last the whole summer due to the number of innings that each pitcher would have to throw."

"It’s going to be fun," Silver Knights general manager Ronnie Wallace said Friday. "I think our players and our fans will have fun with it.

"I love it. We’ll probably have to fine tune it as we go along."

The rule would exist only for the regular season. Traditional extra innings would be played in the playoffs. In 2016 there were 26 extra inning games in the FCBL, 15 longer than 10 innings, including a 21-inning game between North Shore and Bristol. In the last three years has had 16- and 18-inning games in Nashua.

The derby will be baseball’s version of a hockey shootout. As in hockey, it will also have an effect on the standings.

Games could end in a tie if nothing is decided after three rounds of the derby.

That’s why the point system is being used. Teams will automatically get a point in the standings after the 10 innings of a tie game. The home run derby will be for that extra point. Games won in nine innings are worth two points.

In the derby, the first round, with the visiting team hitting first, is three minutes long per team. A list of three players from each team’s active roster will be submitted to the umpire before the game. The same player can continue to hit, but each team gets two timeouts in that round to make a change.

The second round, if necessary, will go two minutes. Two players per team are eligible to compete, and it could be anyone from the first round. If still tied, there will be a third and final round of one minute with just one player from each team competing. If there’s still a tie, that’s how the game will end and each club gets a point.

Any player, coach or manager, as long as they haven’t been ejected from the game, is eligible to pitch to their hitters. "Anyone in uniform," Wallace said. "You are incorporating a coach into the outcome of a game."

One umpire will keep track of the clock and the other umpire will determine fair or foul on potential homers. Wallace said that with Holman’s new video board, there is the capacity to have a clock fans and teams can view.

Wallace was a big proponent of using a clock rather than outs in the derby. "It’s worked well in the Major League (All-Star) Derby," he said. "You’re more likely to get more homers in three minutes than in 10 outs."

Wallace said that summer collegiate baseball is a perfect opportunity to try out something like this.

"In the grand scheme of things,college summer baseball doesn’t mean a heckuva lot (in wins and losses)," he said. "You couldn’t do something like this with NCAA baseball because teams are competing to go to regionals and the World Series. But with us, everything is just decided within the league."