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Batting in Baseball

Each plate appearance consists of a series of pitches, in which the pitcher throws the ball towards home plate while a batter is standing in the batter's box. With each pitch, the batter must decide whether or not to swing the bat at the ball in an attempt to hit it. The pitches arrive fast, so the decision must be made in less than a second. This decision is largely based on whether or not the ball is in the strike zone, a region defined by the area directly above home plate and between the batter's knees and underarms. In addition to swinging at the ball, a batter who wishes to put the ball in play may hold his bat over home plate and attempt to tap a pitch very lightly; this is called a bunt.

Strike or Ball
On any pitch, if the batter swings at the ball and misses, he is charged with a strike. If the batter does not swing, the home plate umpire judges whether or not the ball passed through the strike zone. If the ball passes through the zone, it is ruled a strike; otherwise, it is declared to be a ball. The number of balls and strikes thrown to the current batter is known as the count.

Foul Ball
If the batter swings and makes contact with the ball, but does not put it in play in fair territory—a foul ball—he is charged with a strike, except when there are already two strikes. Thus, a foul ball with two strikes leaves the count unchanged, though a ball that is bunted foul with two strikes always counts as a third strike. If a pitch is batted foul and a member of the defensive team is able to catch it, before the ball strikes the ground, the batter is declared out. In the event that a batter makes contact with the ball, but the ball continues directly into the catchers mitt without striking the ground a foul tip is called and the batter is charged with a strike. If the batter has two strikes already, the batter is now out, charged with a strikeout.

Strikeout or Baserunner
On the third strike the batter is declared out, a strikeout; on the fourth ball the batter is entitled to advance to first base without risk of being put out. This is called a base on balls or walk. If the batter puts the ball in play in fair territory, he becomes a baserunner, and must get to first base safely. A batter always drops his bat when running to first base—the bat otherwise would slow him down and also be a danger to fielders.

Hit By Pitch
If the pitcher, either intentionally or unintentionally, hits the batter, the umpire will declare a hit by pitch and the batter is awarded first base.

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