OFFICIAL RULES AND POLICIES

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Policies and Procedures

1. Event Administration

Game Day USA tournament management will make every effort to treat all teams with fairness.  If questions or disputes arise about policies and procedures, coaches shall bring them to the attention of the Tournament Director to be dealt with.  Any interpretation and decision of the Tournament Director shall be final. 

2. Officials

Professional umpires have been assigned to each game.  Coaches should treat them with respect.  With regard to on-field calls, the decision of the umpires shall be final. 

3. Rosters, Insurance and Waivers

All teams must submit an online roster, certificate of insurance, and waivers as directed by Game Day USA in pre-event correspondence. All teams must check in upon arrival to verify and approve their compliance with the above.  Once a roster is verified, it is frozen for that weekend’s tournament. Teams cannot begin tournament play until their roster is submitted and verified, and all player and coach waivers are on file. Teams who fail to follow these procedures may be subject to a forfeit. 

4. Scores and Standings

Game Day USA relies heavily on technology for allowing teams to get scores and standings from mobile phones and mobile devices.  In the event of a technical failure (server, etc.) or human error (score keyed in incorrectly, etc.), the Tournament Director will work to correct the error as quickly as possible, and will post and/or communicate updated information.  Teams should check back regularly in case changes are made that impact standings, seeds or brackets.  In the unlikely event of a serious technology failure or outage, teams are required to send a representative to tournament headquarters for updates.

5. Spectator Admission Fees

There will be spectator admission fees or parking fees for some events.  Once spectator admission fees or parking fees are paid, there will be no refunds or rain checks.  Specific spectator information for each event can be found online at GAMEDAYUSA.COM under Event Details.

6. Arrival Policies

Teams shall arrive on site 45 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, as games may start prior to published times.  Teams may start and finish games with eight (8) uniformed and rostered players.  If a team has to play with eight (8) players, the ninth spot in the batting order is an automatic out.  If a ninth uniformed and rostered player arrives, that player may be inserted into the ninth spot in the batting order and the automatic out shall stop.  If a team has seven (7) or less uniformed and roster players to start a game, or at any point during the game, the game shall be declared a forfeit.  The forfeit score shall be 7-0 for tiebreaker purposes.

7. Home Team

The home team for pool games shall be determined by a coin flip.  The team that has traveled the greatest distance will call the flip.  Either an umpire or a member of tournament management must be present for the flip.  The higher seed based upon the original seeding will be the home team throughout the playoffs.

8. Dugouts

Teams should fill first and third base dugouts on a first come, first served basis, irrespective of home and away designation.  If a team has back to back games on the same field, they should always remain in the same dugout, to avoid the extra time involved in moving bags, etc.

9. Pregame Warm-Ups

There will be no infield practice.  Teams are allowed to play catch in the outfield area if the time allows.  Never do flip drills into fences or step on foul lines.

10. Score Reporting

Both teams shall report the final score to the Tournament Director or his/her designee immediately following each game.  Since tiebreakers often come into play, accurate score reporting is critical.  Teams who fail to turn in a score within 4 hours from the conclusion of a game (or prior to the end of the last game of any given day) may be subject to the score turned in by the opposing team.

11. Tiebreakers

If a tiebreaker is needed to determine playoff teams (wildcards, etc.), the following tiebreakers shall be used:

  • Overall won-lost record
  • Head-to-head (only applies when two teams are involved)
  • Least number of runs allowed throughout the tournament
  • Total runs scored
  • Coin flip

12. Modifications 

The Tournament Director may modify the number or length of games when necessary due to weather, field conditions, or scheduling issues.  This includes modifying the time limit if games get backed up or for any reason.    

13. Scoreboard Volunteers

Each team shall provide one (1) parent or volunteer to assist with scoreboard operation, etc. as needed.   

14. Local Policies and Ordinances

All teams are required to adhere to local park policies and ordinances.  Alcohol and/or tobacco shall not be brought into the confines of the tournament venues.  The Head Coach shall be ultimately responsible and accountable for the conduct of his players, assistant coaches, and spectators.      

Rosters and Birth Dates

15. A player may only be on one roster in any given tournament, regardless of age division.

While we encourage teams to have matching player uniforms, there is no penalty for players on a roster that participate with a different jersey and/or different numbers than listed on the roster.

16. Team rosters contain personal information such as player date of birth, email addresses and coach’s personal information. In the interest of protecting player and coach privacy, rosters can only be viewed by Game Day USA staff.  Only a Head Coach may ask the Tournament Director about players listed and if they meet the age and/or roster qualifications.  To protest a player’s eligibility, see the policy below.

17. Any Head Coach that would like to formally challenge the eligibility of a player shall make this known to the Tournament Director at least one (1) hour prior to the player’s next game.  A $100 cash challenge fee should be posted at the time of the challenge.  The purpose of the fee is to minimize unsubstantiated challenges.  Provided this process is followed, the Tournament Director or his/her designee will investigate.  If the player is ruled eligible, the $100 cash challenge fee shall be forfeited.  In the instance of an age challenge, if the birth certificate cannot be produced before game time, the player in question is ineligible to play for that game.  If the birth certificate shows the player is over age, the team must forfeit all games the player in question participated in.  The forfeit score shall be 7-0 for tiebreaker purposes.  If any player eligibility challenge is valid and upheld, the $100 cash challenge fee shall be promptly returned.  

18. The birthday age cutoff is April 30. Each Head Coach shall have copies of player birth certificates on hand at every game, and shall be prepared to present them to the Tournament Director upon request.

Playing Rules

The official playing rules for the tournament shall be the NFHS (high school) rules with the following exceptions:

19. Length of Game

Ages 8U-12U will play six (6) innings; ages 13U and above will play seven (7) innings.

20. Batting Order and Extra Players 

In All Age Divisions, teams have the following three (3) options with regard to batting order and extra players:

  • a) Straight Nine:  Nine (9) players in the batting order and listed on the lineup card.  No designated hitter.  All other players are substitutes, subject to the NFHS substitution rules (starter can re-enter into his original spot once, etc.).
  • b) Extra Hitter:  Ten (10) players in the batting order and listed on the lineup card.  No designated hitter.  Free substitution (defensive players) among the ten (10) players listed on the batting order.  All other players are substitutes and subject to the NFHS substitution rules (starter can re-enter into his original spot once, etc.).
  • c) Continuous batting order:  All players in uniform (unless injured) in the batting order and listed on the lineup card.  If a late player arrives after the lineup cards are exchanged, then the player must be entered into the last spot in the batting order.  Free defensive substitution for all players throughout the game.  

The Head Coach shall declare his choice to the opposing coach and the umpire(s) during the plate meeting prior to each game.  Once a declaration is made, it cannot be changed for that game.  

21. Arm Health and Recommended Pitching Limitations

The ultimate responsibility of managing pitch counts rests with each team’s Head Coach.  

Tournament management will not be involved in counting pitches or regulating pitching during tournament events.

Game Day USA endorses the Pitch Smart program, developed by USA Baseball and Major League Baseball.  This program is a series of practical, age appropriate guidelines to help parents, players and coaches avoid overuse injuries and foster long, healthy careers for youth pitchers.  

About Pitch Smart:  USA Baseball and MLB team up to help young players reduce arm injuries by providing a comprehensive resource for safe pitching practices.  Baseball is a safe game to play at all ages, but research has shown that pitching too much – particularly at a young age – can increase a pitcher’s risk of injury.  

Risk Factors:  Some factors that increase the risk of arm injury include:

  • Pitching while fatigued 
  • Not taking enough time off from baseball every year
  • Throwing too many pitches and not getting enough rest
  • Pitching on consecutive days
  • Playing for multiple teams at the same time
  • Throwing breaking pitches at a young age

Recommended Pitch Count Limits and Recommended Rest:  


See the full recommendations and explore resources provided by the Advisory Committee at PitchSmart.org.

22. Bat Restrictions 

Ages 8U-12U:  Bats must be stamped either 1.15 BPF or USA Baseball and will have no weight drop restriction.  Alternatively, BBCOR and/or wood bats may be used.  BESR stamped bats are illegal and cannot be used.  

Age 13U:  Bats must be stamped either 1.15 BPF or USA Baseball and must be no lighter than a drop-8 length-to-weight ratio.  Alternatively, BBCOR and/or wood bats may be used.  BESR stamped bats are illegal and cannot be used.  

Age 14U:  Bats must be stamped either 1.15 BPF or USA Baseball and must be no lighter than a drop-5 length-to-weight ratio.  Alternatively, BBCOR and/or wood bats may be used.  BESR stamped bats are illegal and cannot be used.  

Age 15U and Above:  Bats must be BBCOR certified.  All BBCOR aluminum bats are limited to -3 drop and must be stamped BBCOR Certified per NFHS rule.  Alternatively, wood bats may be used.  

In the case that a bat is deemed illegal and unsafe for use by various governing bodies, the Game Day USA Rules and Procedures Team will come convene to make a decision on the use of said bats at Game Day USA events. 

23. Time Limits

The game start time shall begin with the first warm up pitch.  The home plate umpire or base umpire shall monitor the official time, and it is preferred that the time be announced publicly to minimize confusion later.   All games shall have a 1 hour and 45 minute time limit, except the championship game.  Consult GameDayUSA.com/ReturnToPlay for the latest adjustments in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.     

Expiration of the time limit shall be ruled upon at the moment the final out in a half inning is recorded.  An inning may be finished, but a new inning cannot be started after the time limit expires.  If the home team is ahead when the time limit is reached, the game is over (a) immediately after the top half of the inning is finished or (b) at the moment the time limit is reached and the home team is ahead in the bottom half of the inning.  

The Tournament Director reserves the right to modify time limits in the event of weather or scheduling issues.  

24. Mercy Rules

Mercy rules shall be fifteen (15) runs after 3 innings, ten (10) runs after 4 innings, and eight (8) runs after 5 innings.  Mercy rules shall be in effect for all games, including the championship game.  

25. Base Distances and Field Dimensions

Every effort will be made to make sure base distances, pitching distances, and field dimensions are accurate.  Since Game Day USA works with many different public and private facilities, dimensions are sometimes slightly off.  So long as the field dimensions are reasonable and the same for both teams, play shall not be stopped to reinstall bases or pitching rubbers

26. Official Baseballs 

Official game balls will be provided to start each game, but will not be replenished throughout the game.  Teams are expected to assist in retrieval of foul balls and home run balls.  Teams should always have tournament quality used baseballs on hand to toss in if the original game balls are lost or not returned by the fans to the umpires.  

27. Metal Spikes and Footwear for Synthetic Turf Events

Metal spikes are not allowed in age groups 8U-12U.  Likewise, metal spikes are generally prohibited for all ages on fields with synthetic turf, and/or fields with portable pitching mounds.  Any athlete that may play on a synthetic turf field and/or be called to pitch on a portable pitching mound must be prepared with non-metal footwear (varies by facility).  Acceptable footwear in these cases includes turf shoes, plastic cleats, molded cleats, or gym shoes.  

28. 8U and 9U Only

8U Division:  There will be no leadoffs and stealing will be permitted only after the ball crosses the plate.  There will be no dropped third strike, and a runner may only score from third base on a)  a batted ball, b) a walk, c) a hit by pitch, or d) if played upon by the pitcher or catcher.  No balks will be called.

9U Division:  Leadoffs are permitted.  There will be no dropped third strike.  Umpires shall issue one balk warning per pitcher before enforcing any balk penalty.  

29. Extra Innings and Tie Games 

If a game is tied after the time limit expires or when the regulation innings have been completed, the following Game Day USA tiebreaker will be used.  In the first extra inning and every ½ inning thereafter, each team will start with a man on second base and 1 out.  The base runner will be the last batted out from the previous inning.  Each batter will start with a 1-1 count.  The game will continue in this format until a winner is determined.  If a winner is not determined after three (3) extra innings, the game shall be recorded as a tie.  Likewise, if weather or darkness prevents a tie game from being completed, then the game shall be recorded as a tie.  

30. Intentional Walks

There will be no pitches thrown to intentionally walk a batter.  Notify the umpire, and the batter will be awarded first base.

31. Courtesy Runners

Courtesy runners are optional at any time for the pitcher and catcher.  The courtesy runner shall be a player not currently in the lineup. If a team is batting their entire roster, the courtesy runner shall be the last batted out. The pitcher or catcher for this rule is the pitcher or catcher of the previous inning.  If this situation arises in the first inning and no outs have been recorded, the pitcher or catcher shall remain on the bases until an out is recorded.

32. Ejections

If a coach is ejected from a game, he will be suspended for the remainder of the game and for the next game the team plays.  If a player is ejected during a game, he will be suspended for the remainder of the game.  If a team is batting their entire lineup and/or no substitutes are available, the name of the ejected player will remain in the batting order and count as an out when the batting order reaches that player.     

33. Injuries and Early Departures 

If a player becomes injured (as ruled by the umpire) and is unable to continue playing, his spot in the batting order shall be skipped with no penalty unless the team has a legal/available substitute. Once an injured player leaves the batting order, he is done for the remainder of that game.

34. Game Called Due to Weather or Field Conditions

A game will be considered complete if weather, darkness or field conditions prevent the game from being completed:

6-inning game = 3 innings or 2 ½ if home team is leading, will constitute a completed game.

7-inning game = 4 innings or 3 ½ if home team is leading, will determine a completed game.

If a game is not official as described above, the Tournament Director will either:

(a) suspend the game and arrange to have it resumed where it left off, or 

(b) cancel the game such that it does not count toward tournament standings.  

Should a Championship game be interrupted by weather, darkness or unplayable field conditions, and is not an official game per the above Rule, then the Championship team will be determined by the score at the end of the last full completed inning.  If the score was tied at the end of the last completed inning or if the first inning of the game is not completed, the higher seed shall be named Champion.

35. Game Schedules

Game Day USA will release the Official Schedule for each event on the Tuesday prior to the event by midnight or sooner if possible. Teams must be prepared to play in any of the time slots for the scheduled days of the event.

36. Honor The Game

Game Day USA management emphasizes that the primary purpose of all tournament events is to create positive competition experiences and lifelong memories for the participants.  All adults (coaches, parents, officials) should conduct themselves with this fundamental notion in mind.  Compromising the integrity of the game or making a travesty of the game are unacceptable and will be grounds for disqualification.  

37. Refund Policy 

Once an entry fee is paid for an event, no cash, check or credit card refunds will be issued for any reason whatsoever, unless Game Day USA cancels the event in advance of the event weekend due to insufficient enrollment.  If a team registers and subsequently is unable to participate, provided reasonable notification in writing:

  1. a) Team can be transferred to another Game Day USA tournament, subject to availability; 
  2. b) Team can receive a full credit, valid through the following season; or 
  3. c) Team can transfer the credit to another team and receive compensation from the transferee team

If an event is cancelled at any time or shortened due to inclement weather or field conditions, Game Day USA will issue credits as follows:

0 games:  100% credit toward a future Game Day USA event either later in 2020 or in 2021.

1 game:  50% credit toward a future Game Day USA event either later in 2020 or in 2021.

2nd game started:  25% credit toward a future Game Day USA event either later in 2020 or in 2021.

2 or more games completed: No credits due.

38. Game Day USA Rules Highlights – At A Glance

Individual Player Opportunities 

MVP Tags 

Coaches will receive MVP tags for their games.  Following each game, the Head Coach (or his designee Assistant Coach) shall award an MVP tag to the MVP of the game from the opposing team.  This gesture will allow coaches to model good sporting behavior to their young athletes, and the round of applause from the spectators is intended to be a special moment for the players involved. 

All-Star Weekends

All-Star Weekends are post-season special events that bring top players together in the same way that MLB brings its All-Stars together annually.  Coaches can nominate their best players for All-Star Weekends.  The nomination process is quick and easy at GameDayUSA.com/AllStar.  Nominees receive an invitation to these events and will have the opportunity to participate in the nation’s largest All-Star Weekend series.  MVPs (described previously) automatically qualify, and can enroll at GameDayUSA.com/AllStar.  

Junior All-American Games

Junior All-American Games events are hosted at MLB Spring Training venues, and give selected participants the opportunity to play where Big Leaguers play!  These three-day events feature players from all over the United States (and some foreign countries), and players are assigned to teams based upon age and defensive position.  Training, education and instruction are also key components.  Nominate your best players at GameDayUSA.com/AllAmerican.  

PROSPECT Teams

The very best players from Game Day USA’s All-Star Weekend events will be hand-picked by independent baseball professionals to represent Game Day USA at the New Year’s BaseballFest over Winter Break in Panama City Beach, Florida.  Since this is a highly selective process, invitees will receive a special Golden Ticket invitation.  You can learn more about the PROSPECT Team program at GameDayUSA.com/Prospect. 

USA Baseball NTIS – National Team Identification Series

Game Day USA partners with USA Baseball, the national governing body for our sport, to administer the National Team Identification Series program in the eleven-state Midwest Region.  The very best players in the Region (ages 11U-16U) are selected to the Midwest All-Region Team, and they have the opportunity to play in front of national team coaches at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina in August.  For more information, visit MidwestNTIS.com.  

THANK YOU FOR PLAYING BASEBALL WITH GAME DAY USA!