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Baseball Innings

What is an inning? How many innings are there in a game? Get ready to learn the rules of innings in baseball.

Innings

Unlike many other sports, baseball games are not contained by a clock or any form of measurable time. Instead, baseball games are comprised of innings. Each inning has a top half and a bottom half. There are nine innings in a baseball game that are used to decide the winning team.

baseball inning

How Do Innings Work?

Innings have two parts, called half-innings. The first is called the top of the inning, while the second is called the bottom of the inning. In each half-inning, one team is at bat, while the other team is fielding. At the end of each half-inning, the teams switch roles on the field - the batting team becomes the fielding team, and vice versa. A team can only score when it is their turn to bat; they cannot score while fielding. Half-innings end when the fielding team gets three outs.

Every baseball game has a home team and an away team, unless they are playing on neutral ground making them both away teams. In that case, the home team is designated by mutual agreement.For any baseball game the away team is always bats first, while the home team bats second.

Top of the Inning

The first part of each inning is called the top of the inning or top-half. In baseball, the away team always bats first at the top of the inning, while the home team bats second at the bottom of the inning. When three outs are made, the top of the inning is over.baseball top of the inning

Middle of the Inning

The middle of the inning is the transition period between the top-half and bottom-half. For MLB games, the middle of the inning is 2 minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games, or 2 minutes and 45 seconds for nationally televised games.During the middle of the inning, players grab their gear like their hats and gloves for fielding.

baseball middle of the inning

Bottom of the Inning

The second part of each inning is called the bottom of the inning or the bottom-half for short. The home team is always at-bat during the bottom-half, while the away team is fielding. When three outs are made, the bottom of the inning is over.

baseball bottom of the inning

9th Inning

In baseball, the 9th inning is the last inning in the game. Sometimes the bottom of the ninth inning (often abbreviated as the bottom of the ninth) is not played or ends before three outs are made. The game is over and play will end immediately in the 9th inning if:

  1. The home team is in the lead at the end of top-half of the 9th inning
  2. The away team is in the lead at the end of the 9th inning after the bottom-half

baseball ninth inningExtra Innings

If the score is tied at the end of the 9th inning, teams will play extra innings until a winner is decided. Baseball is unlike other sports in that it doesn't use sudden-death to determine the winner. Instead, both teams get a chance to be at-bat during their half-innings to earn runs for their team.

baseball extra inning

Youth League Innings

In youth baseball leagues, games usually last six innings or less. Baseball games can often take hours to finish, so youth leagues generally don't play all nine innings.

Related Terminology

If you're still confused about innings and the structure of a baseball game, you can learn more with these references.

  • Innings
  • Half-Innings
  • Top-Half
  • Bottom-Half
  • Top of the Inning
  • Bottom of the Inning
  • Middle of the Inning
  • Extra Innings
  • Outs

Summary

Baseball is a game played with nine innings. Innings are composed of two parts called a top-half and bottom-half. The away team always bats first at the top of the inning, while the home team bats second at the bottom of the inning. The teams switch at the end of each half-inning once three outs are made.

Theoretically, a baseball game can last forever. The game doesn't always last nine innings. The game can end in either the top-half or bottom-half of the ninth inning or in extra innings if the score remains tied.

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