How Many Innings in Baseball?

In a standard regulation game, baseball has nine innings, each of which is divided into halves. 

A college baseball game, Minor League Baseball game, and major league game have different numbers of baseball innings and last for around three hours. Let’s explore the differences.

What Is an Inning and How Many Innings Are There in a Baseball Game?

A baseball game has two teams that are allotted nine innings each to score runs and win. Just like other sports, one person from the batting team is sent to bat on the field during an inning. 

When a player takes this position, it is referred to as being “at bat.” 

The pitching team (the away team) will have nine players on the field all focused on preventing the batter from scoring a run against their team. One inning is in play until three batters from one team are “out.”

In general, an average baseball game lasts about three hours. While the innings are part of it, baseball does not revolve around them. 

Some games can therefore finish before the 9th inning is completed.

The Different Types of Innings in Baseball

There are five different types of innings. They can be classified as

  • Top of the inning – played by the opposing team. The inning is not considered over if three of the team’s batters have been outed.
  • Middle of the inning – considered a middle-ground or break between the top and bottom innings. It usually lasts for a short while, typically taking less than five minutes and is usually considered a transitional period when players change gears.
  • Bottom of the inning – played by the home team when both teams are ready to resume their positions. The away team will try to stop the home team from scoring.
  • The 9th inning – marks the end of a standard game. However, it can also end before the 9th inning depending on certain circumstances.
  • Extra innings – considered tie-breakers. Extra innings are used to continue the game until one team is declared the winner.

What Makes Up an Inning?

Innings are made up of three outs per team or six outs for both teams. The number of innings is divided into two halves and depends on several factors, including the number of pitches thrown, at-bats, pitching changes, and the pitcher’s pace. 

In theory, if the fielding team does not record three outs, a baseball inning could potentially last indefinitely.

Generally, a half-inning begins when the umpire calls “play ball” or “play.” The visiting team bats for the top half of the inning while the home team bats for the bottom half of the inning. 

This rule remains constant in all baseball games with the only exception occurring at the Tee-Ball level.

In most leagues, if the game is inconclusive after the nine innings and there’s no clear winner, extra innings come into play. If the score remains tied after the additional time frame allotted to it, it is declared a tie. 

If playing conditions are impacted by rain or bad weather, it is called a rainout.

What is the Significance of a Rainout in a Baseball Game?

A game called a rainout happens due to adverse weather conditions. If the weather conditions do not permit the completion of a game, an umpire will do a quick analysis to determine whether or not playing can still take place until the end of the innings.

If it looks like the weather will clear up, the baseball game is simply delayed and rescheduled to a later time on the same day. If weather conditions don’t allow it,  the umpire announces a rainout and suspends the match for another day. 

Generally, MLB teams have the luxury of having a grounds crew that takes care of the field, so they seldom encounter trouble from small disturbances. However, if a match is shortened due to bad weather conditions, like unexpected rain, it will still count as an official game, and the leading team is declared the winner by the end of five innings.

Was Baseball Always 9-Innings Long?

No. Originally, a baseball game lasted for the duration it took for a team, whether it was a home team or a visiting team, to score 21 times. As the focus on pitching increased, it significantly impacted the difficulty level of playing by making it harder to score runs, thereby increasing its duration.

How Many Innings Does a High School Baseball Game Last?

Just like softball, high school baseball games usually last seven innings and are finished in three hours. However, this is not set in stone.

Seven-inning games can go on for more than four hours, depending on various variables.

How Many Innings Should a High School Baseball Team Complete to Be Considered Official?

If the weather disrupts the normal flow of the match in any way, it can be stopped after four innings. If weather conditions improve, playing resumes. 

If not, it is considered officially over, and the leading team after the last full inning after the fourth inning is considered the winner.

Why Does High School Baseball Have 7 Innings While an Average Baseball Game Has 9?

High school games start late, usually after 4 PM. Because of the limited number of lights on the field and weather conditions, players may not be able to see a batted ball and pitch accordingly. High school matches have therefore been shortened to seven innings so players can have full visibility when playing before darkness sets in.

How Many Innings Does a Collegiate Baseball Game Last?

College baseball games usually last around nine innings. However, doubleheaders can be played with either one or both games having just seven innings. 

The duration of collegiate games is guided by specific rules. 

For example, if a team is leading by ten or more runs after the fifth or seventh inning in seven-inning games, the mercy rule comes into play which brings the match to an end. 

How Many Innings Does an MLB Game Last?

Baseball games in the major leagues depend on a variety of factors ranging from how many innings it takes to complete and how many runs each team has to the number of runners on the field and the match’s complexity. 

Since most pitchers prefer to take their time in between pitches owing to the high number of base runners, this too can lengthen a game’s duration.

MLB Rules and Changes to Shorten the Duration of Baseball Matches

Major League Baseball implemented a rule in 2015 that aimed to reduce the time it takes to play by keeping track of the time between pitches and mound visits with the help of a timer. In 2020, however, the number of baseball innings was reduced to 15. 

Alternatively, if the home team leads after the completion of the eighth inning and 8.5 frames, then a baseball match can be considered official, and a winning team can be declared accordingly.

How Many Innings Did the Longest Baseball Game Have?

According to MLB history, the longest game based on the number of innings had 26 of them. It was between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Robyns. 

It ended with a 1-1 tie because it became too dark. With no lights on the field, the ball could not be spotted. 

Keeping up with the custom, the first pitch was thrown at three in the afternoon. As lights began appearing on the building’s windows across Charles River, home-plate umpire Barry McCormick ended the match and declared it a tie at around seven in the evening.

What Is the Purpose of Extra Innings?

Extra innings usually come into effect when the baseball game is inconclusive. An extra inning is used as a tie-breaker to determine a clear winner. 

In the absence of a winning team, the match will continue after the ninth inning until a team scores the winning run.

Wrapping Up

College games, and Minor and Major League Baseball games, all last around nine innings. High school games, on the other hand, last for only seven innings. 

The completion of a baseball game, however, is dependent on weather conditions which may result in a temporary delay in playing. If the team is tied by the end of the ninth inning, there will be more innings until a winner can be declared.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long is an inning in baseball?

A baseball inning lasts for a total of three consecutive outs per team. 

How many innings in minor leagues games?

A Minor League Baseball game lasts for three hours. It follows the same set of rules outlined by the Major League Baseball rulebook.