Baseball 101: How Many Innings Are In A Baseball Game?

How Many Innings Are In A Baseball Game?

If you’re wondering how many innings there are in a baseball game, you’re in the right place. This article will cover everything related to baseball innings, including how many there are and how long they take. So, next time you’re sitting down to watch a game on TV, or headed to the ballpark, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

What Is An Inning In Baseball?

In baseball, the game is segmented into different sections called “innings”. In an inning, each team has one turn to bat, and one turn to field, known as half-innings.

While batting, a team is trying to score runs by hitting the ball and then running around the bases. The fielding team tries to stop the batting team from doing this and to get the offensive players out. The half-inning ends when an umpire rules three players on the batting team as “out”.

So, How Many Innings In Baseball?

In most professional baseball games, including those in the MLB, there is a standard length of nine innings. At the end of the ninth inning, the team with the most runs wins the game. If the two teams are tied at the end of the ninth inning, the game continues into “extra innings”. Extra innings continue until one team has outscored the other at the end of an inning.

In international baseball competitions and the World Baseball Classic (WBC), there is a “mercy rule”. This means a game can end when one team is winning by 10 or more runs and seven or more innings have been completed.

Professional baseball at Yankee StadiumImage credit: Chanan Greenblatt/Negative Space, CC0

How Many Innings In College Baseball?

Like their Major League counterparts, college baseball games generally consist of nine innings. However, as we’ve mentioned, this may be shortened to seven innings due to the implementation of the mercy rule.

How Many Innings In High School Baseball?

In high school baseball, there are typically seven innings. However, some high school baseball leagues may have variations in the number of innings played, such as playing only five or six innings each game. These variations may be made to accommodate time constraints or other scheduling factors.

Nonetheless, the standard number of innings in high school baseball is seven, shorter than the nine-innings games played in college and professional leagues.

Two men playing high school baseball
Image credit: Pixabay/Pexels, CC0

How Long Is An Inning In Baseball?

Baseball is a very complex sport, and constant mind games are happening between pitchers, batters, baserunners, and fielders. Coaches are also getting messages to players, and telling them to improve their position or predicting what the opposition might do next.

A pitcher might want to slow things down to increase the pressure on a batter, or a batter may take extra time to try and work out what sort of pitch might be thrown next. All of this takes time, so historically it has been impossible to accurately predict the exact length of a baseball inning. It would only end when three players had been given out on both teams.

Recently though, the biggest baseball league in the world, MLB, has taken steps to address this and reduce the amount of time teams can take during the game. As of the 2023 season, the league introduced a pitch clock that limits teams to 15 seconds for each pitch with the bases empty and 20 with runners on.

Since this rule was introduced, the average inning has lasted between 16 and 18 minutes. This has significantly reduced the overall length of an average MLB game, which is down to around two hours and 40 minutes (30 minutes less than the 2022 season).

How Long Can A Baseball Game Last?

In theory, a baseball game could keep going as long as the teams are tied. The longest professional game ever recorded was between minor league teams the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. A total of 33 innings were played, and the game lasted eight hours and 25 minutes.

In the MLB, the record is a 25-inning match between the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1984, which ran for a total of eight hours and six minutes. The fans certainly got their money’s worth that day!

Summary

So, now you know that the next baseball game you watch should have nine innings, and last around two hours and 40 minutes. If your game does go to extra innings, you might consider yourself lucky (depending on how much you’re enjoying the game) as this only happens in around 10% of regular season games.

For more on baseball, check out our articles on the richest baseball players ever and the most valuable Michael Jordan baseball cards.

Lead image credit: Global Panorama/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Author: Nathan Sanchez