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The independent Pioneer League is replacing extra innings with a sudden-death home run derby.
Games that are tied after nine innings will be decided by a "Knock Out" rule, the designated MLB Partner League announced Tuesday.
"Under the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives five pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit," the league said in a news release. "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 move is designed to avoid "excessive strain" on pitching staffs.
The league will also allow designated pinch hitters and designated pinch runners, allowing players to be pinch hit for or pinch run for before returning to their designated defensive positions for the remainder of the game. Both may only be used once per game by each team.
In addition, hitters will now be allowed to appeal the home plate umpire's check-swing strike call to a base umpire. Previously, only the pitcher or catcher could ask for an appeal.
"I'm thrilled to see these exciting rules changes implemented for this season," league president Michael Shapiro said in the 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."
For the 2021 season, the Pioneer League features eight teams based in Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah.
--Field Level Media