NCAA college baseball games are traditionally nine innings of play. Just like in Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball, the game goes into extra innings if college baseball games don’t have a winner after nine innings. However, for various reasons, when there is a doubleheader match during the season, the games can go to seven instead of the traditional nine-inning game. On top of that, a mercy rule in college baseball can also make the game last seven innings in some instances.
So, why are doubleheader college baseball games seven innings at times? How do extra innings work in college baseball? How many innings are in the college world series? Is there a mercy rule in college baseball, and if so, how does that impact the number of innings in a game? What is the longest inning game in college baseball?
Here is the complete breakdown of how many innings are in college baseball.
Why are Doubleheader Games Seven-Inning Games in College Baseball?
While regular-season college baseball games are nine innings, doubleheader matches can be seven or nine innings. Teams tend to opt for seven innings due for two prominent reasons.
First, two seven-inning games allow more rest for the student-athletes, especially if there is any concern that there could be extra innings ahead of time. In theory, limiting the game to seven innings gives rest to players instead of playing two 18-inning games at a minimum.
Second, the travel time consideration for the visiting team heading home is a factor if they want seven or nine-inning games, especially for Sunday games. NCAA baseball requires teams to travel to different venues during the season, which adds time for the student baseball players to be away from campus. One way to shorten that time away from campus is to elect for a seven-inning game when they have two games to play that day.
How Does Extra Innings Work in College Baseball?
College baseball, like in MLB, has the ghost runner start on second base each half-inning during extra innings. Extra innings continue until there is a winner after one of the innings. The same rules apply to college softball regarding their extra-inning rule with the ghost runner at second base.
What Happens if the Game Ends Due to Rain?
If at least five innings are complete and one team is winning, then a college baseball game can end if rain (or any weather) forces the game to stop. Whatever team is leading the score after the five completed innings will be the winner of the game. If there is no winner after five innings, or the game is paused before the fifth inning, it must be rescheduled unless it is a meaningless game at the end of the season that won’t impact any conference championship match.
Also, it is worth noting that if the home team is winning at the start of the bottom of the fifth and the rain forces the game to stop, they can still win without the conclusion of the bottom of the fifth. Since the home team is already up against their opponent, it doesn’t matter what they do at the bottom of the fifth.
However, if the visiting team is up in the bottom of the fifth and rain is coming down, then they must record all three outs in the fifth to have the opportunity to win via a rainout.
How Many Innings in the College World Series?
The college world series is a 9-inning game, just like in the regular season. Any game in a tie after the bottom of the ninth inning will go into extra innings to determine the winner. The longest CWS game occurred in 2013, over 13 innings that took 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete. That game was between UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.
How Does the Mercy Rule Play a Role in College Baseball Games?
College baseball games have a mercy rule that can help shorten a game when an obvious blowout occurs. The mercy rule states that if one team is up by ten runs or more after the seventh inning, the game concludes with them being the winner. Once the seventh inning is complete, with one team up by ten runs or more, the game concludes as that will be the final inning, and no other innings will occur.
The ten-run rule helps speed up the conclusion of baseball games when there is an apparent blowout between the two baseball teams. This rule is significant because it allows the visiting team to get on the road faster and return to their campus.
However, it is worth noting that there is no mercy rule in championship conference tournament games. Additionally, some divisions and conferences have different rules for the mercy rule. For example, some will only enact these rules if it is a final game between the two teams on Sunday to allow the opposing team to drive or fly back to their campus.
What is the Longest College Baseball Game in History?
According to NCAA.org, the longest college baseball game to take to finish was in 2011 between Fresno State and San Diego. Fresno eventually won the game 3-2, which took 7 hours and 12 minutes to complete.
The next longest college baseball game to complete was back in 2009 between Texas and Boston College. Texas eventually won the game, which took 7 hours and 3 minutes to complete.
Check out the list of longest college games and the number of baseball innings they needed to complete everything.
How Long Do College Baseball Games Tend to Last?
According to Legion Report, the average game length for college baseball can take about three hours to complete, which puts it on par with Major League Baseball Games. However, games can vary in length depending on if the game goes into extra innings or if the game ends via a mercy rule.
High school baseball games take about two hours to complete, but they only play seven innings.
Conclusion: How Many Innings in College Baseball?
In summary, National Collegiate Athletic Association baseball games are nine innings with no time limit. The nine innings of play work the same way as professional baseball, where the team winning after nine innings will win. Like professional baseball, if a college baseball game has no winner after nine innings, the game moves into extra innings.
However, there are reasons why college baseball games don’t go the whole nine innings:
- If the game is a doubleheader, especially on Sunday, teams tend to elect to play two seven-inning games to give rest to their players.
- A 10-run mercy rule in play after the seventh inning automatically declares a winner to help speed up the game’s conclusion.
- Any game impacted by rain that causes a game to stop that has one team up after five innings will declare that team the winner.