How Many Innings in Baseball? ENDING A REGULATION GAME

by Barbara Jackson
how many innings are in a baseball game

Baseball has a dizzying array of rules and terminologies that can be confusing for novice fans. One of these terminologies you’ve likely come across is innings.

Innings are like slices of the game, where each team gets a batting and fielding turn. Innings ultimately help organize the game.

Stick around as I delve further into what innings are and their significance in the batting sport.

Overview: How Many Innings Are in a Baseball Game?

In professional baseball game settings, such as those played in the Major League Baseball (MLB) games, there are nine innings.

Meanwhile, high school games tend to go for seven innings instead. Nonetheless, some games may add or subtract innings into their games. In those cases, they’re termed “extra innings” or “mercy rule.”

What Are Innings in a Baseball Game?

A baseball game is divided into multiple innings. These are segments of the game where each team gets a turn to bat and field. Subsequently, each inning is divided into two portions, also called half-innings.

There are top and bottom halves in an inning. The visiting team plays the top half, where they bat, while the home team takes the bottom or fielding position.

Overall, the visiting team attempts to score as many runs as possible during a half-inning, while the home team tries to defend and prevent those many innings in baseball

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What Is Batting?

A batting turn is given to the offensive team. When it’s a team’s turn to bat, they need to score runs by hitting the ball and running across all bases.

The batter must try to hit the ball hard enough so it’s out of reach for the opposing team to catch. That way, it’ll give more time for the batter to pass through every base until they reach the home to score a run.

What Is Fielding?

The fielding turn belongs to the defensive team. During this, the team’s pitcher needs to throw the ball to the batter. If the batter isn’t able to hit the ball three times, they strike out.

Let’s assume the batter hits the ball. If one of the fielding players catches the hit ball before the batter manages to reach the base, the batter is out.

How Long Is an Inning in Baseball?

Half-innings typically end with the umpire’s decision. In most cases, if three players from the offensive or batting team strike out, the half-inning ends.

Aside from that, an inning’s timing depends on several factors, such as the number of outs, runs scored, and batters faced.

You can expect an inning to last between 20 and 30 minutes. Most games fall around the 20-minute mark. Nonetheless, there’s no set timing in baseball games.

All nine innings can last a lengthy three hours and a half. The main goal for each team is to score as many runs during each many innings in a baseball game

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Origins of Innings in Baseball

Baseball can be traced back to as early as the 1700s. Historians don’t know the exact date of innings in the game. Nonetheless, the concept was likely implemented during the game’s inception to distribute defensive and offensive gameplay fairly.

In the early 1800s, baseball games didn’t use innings yet. Instead, they agreed that if a team wins a certain amount of runs, they win. Alternatively, they would simply play throughout daylight.

Afterward, by the mid-1800s, innings became a more efficient format for baseball games. During the years that followed, various clubs and organizations implemented different numbers of innings.

In times of the Civil War, games were reduced to seven innings to save time. Meanwhile, the late 1800s witnessed baseball games extending to ten and even 12 innings. Nine innings became the standard by the early 1900s.

Throughout the history of baseball, the number of innings kept fluctuating, even after becoming a standard nine. In 1920, the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves went for a long-haul 26-inning game. The match ended due to darkness. It lasted over three hours and 50 minutes.

In a more recent MLB game in 1984, the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers teams played for over 25 innings.

This was the longest MLB match in history, lasting eight hours and six minutes. Luckily for the players, the game was played over two days.

Why Are They Called Innings?

The term “innings” is derived from the Old English word, “innung”, which is a gerund form of innian. It translates to “to get within, put or bring in.”

In 1738, the word was used to refer to a team’s turn to play. The word was later adopted in cricket, another batting game similar to baseball. In cricket, an inning refers to the time a team bats until they’re long is an inning in baseball

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Why Would the Number of Innings Increase?

Increasing the number of innings in a baseball game usually occurs when there’s a tie. Extra innings also apply if an inning is complete after the two-and-a-half-hour mark.

During extra innings, teams will play a half-inning in a “sudden victory” format. This gameplay constitutes three outs.

A coin toss decides which team is in the batting or fielding position. The teams’ managers and umpire meet at the home base and the home team’s manager chooses heads or tails.

Whoever wins the toss decides whether to be on the defensive or offensive team. If the offensive team scores a hit, they win, if not, the defense team wins.

Why Would the Number of Innings Decrease?

The number of innings would decrease in the instance of a mercy rule. During then, one team would have to have a significant lead during the fifth inning.

Now, mercy rules don’t apply to professional and college-level baseball games, like those in MLB.

Instead, they’re more common in high school or minor games. Despite that, some baseball officials are calling to introduce the mercy rule in MLB games.

New York Yankees manager, Aaron Boone, tweeted, “I know I brought it up with you guys a couple of years ago and you guys chuckled at me. But we don’t have any of these questions if everyone’s fighting to get to that 10 runs by seven innings or something.”

The tweet commented on a White Sox hitter who scored a home run, despite Boone’s team leading by 11 runs.

What Counts as a Regulation Game?

Also termed “official game,” a regulation game happens when the visiting team makes 15 outs or five innings, with the home team leading the score. It can also happen if the home team makes 15 outs.

Several rules revolve around regulation games in the MLB. For instance, if a regulation game ends early due to extreme weather, the scores are final if the home team takes the lead.

Meanwhile, if the home team is trailing, the results will remain final only if the game isn’t in the middle of an inning where the visiting team is leading.innings in baseball

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Ending a Regulation Game

Regulation games can end due to various factors. One of which includes a forfeited game, where one of the teams may not have nine players. In another situation, the game ends if the visiting team is behind by ten or more runs after four and a half innings.

Also, if either team is ten runs behind and has equal batting times after the fifth inning, a regulation game can end.

Why the Number of Innings is Important

The number of innings is crucial in any baseball game because it determines its length. It also allows sports managers, players, and coaches to strategize gameplay throughout the innings.

In some games, the number of innings may increase or decrease. Subsequently, if the number decreases, managers must take the limited time play into account. They might employ different strategies, like switching players and changing pitches.

Key Takeaways

How many innings are in baseball? In total, there are nine innings in professional, college-level games. Amateur or high school-level games usually employ a seven-inning gameplay instead. They may also adopt a mercy rule if one team is leading by a lot.

That said, each inning allows each team time to be on the defensive and offensive side. The offensive side gets the batting turn, while the defensive gets the pitching and fielding positions. Overall, innings are a crucial part of the game.

They help organize the game and allow managers to strategize their moves to get the most runs.

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