Pioneer League to Replace Extra Innings With Home Run Derby

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The Pioneer League announced Tuesday it will implement a home run derby as a replacement for extra innings during the 2021 season. 

The league will enact a new "Knock Out" rule for games that are tied after nine innings, per Tuesday's release. Each team will designate a batter to receive five pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit in that stretch. If the five-pitch home run derby ends in a tie, another hitter will be selected for a "sudden-death home run face-off."

“I’m thrilled to see these exciting rules changes implemented for this season,” Pioneer League president Michael Shapiro said in a statement. “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.”

The Pioneer League noted Tuesday's rule change was created to "avoid the excessive strain on our pitching staffs." It has also altered pinch-hitting rules in 2021, allowing a player to be pinch hit for before returning to the game in the next half-inning. 

MLB partnered with the Atlantic League on April 14 for a slate of rule changes in 2021. The Atlantic League will move the rubber back one foot to 61'6", and a new pinch-runner rule will also be in play.

The Pioneer League's rule change in 2021 has "no official tie" with MLB, per ESPN's Joon Lee.

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