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If he is called out on strikes and the catcher drops the ball, the batter may try to run to first base. In order to be put out, the catcher must throw the ball and get him out at first before he gets to the base. If the runner beats the throw, then the runner is safe.

The pitcher is given credit for a strikeout. The catcher is given an error.

This is how pitchers can have 4 strikeouts in an inning, which happened in MLB this week.

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Q: Umpire calls a batter out and catcher drops the ball and batter advances to first is he safe or out at first?
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