How Long Is A Baseball Game?

Baseball Innings

A professional baseball game in America is nine innings long and lasts about three hours. Each inning is split into halves, where the away team bats in the top half of the inning and the home team bats in the bottom half. In each half, the defending team is required to make three outs before they can switch sides and hit. Once each team has recorded three outs, the full inning is over. The average inning lasts about 20 minutes but can vary depending on how quickly and efficiently the pitcher is performing. 

While there is no game clock in baseball, Major League Baseball has recently implemented a two-minute countdown between each half of an inning to ensure teams switch sides in a timely manner. Unlike in other sports such as football or basketball, there are no designated media timeouts in baseball broadcasts. Play stops either when teams are switching sides or when a manager visits the mound, where they can either take time to talk with their pitcher or bring a new player into the game.


College

Similar to professional baseball, college baseball games are nine innings long and usually last around three hours. The exception to this is for doubleheader games, which are played in a limited format of seven innings to fit both games in the same day, ensure the player’s health, and keep spectators entertained.

High School

While both college and professional baseball games last nine innings, games in high school are limited to seven innings. This is mainly so that younger players do not have to withstand as much fatigue when playing. By requiring two fewer innings, pitchers do not have to throw as many pitches, and players do not have to be in the field for as long. This rule leads to quicker games that typically last around two hours.

Youth

Similar to high school baseball, youth baseball is shortened to prevent injury and fatigue to young players. In most youth baseball leagues, games are limited to only six innings and typically last under two hours. There is also usually a mercy rule in youth baseball, which states if a team is winning by more than ten runs after a certain number of innings, they are declared the winner, and the game ends before all six innings are played. In most leagues, the mercy rule is applied after the fourth inning.

Extra Innings

Baseball Extra Innings

A game can be longer than nine innings if both teams are tied at the end of the ninth inning, in which case the game goes into extra innings. Teams play extra innings until one inning ends with someone in the lead. This can happen in two ways: the away team can take the lead in the top half of the inning and hold the home team scoreless in the bottom half, or the home team can walk it off in the bottom half of the inning by scoring after holding the away team scoreless in the top half.

There is no limit to the number of extra innings that can be played, and some games stretch beyond five or six hours of play. In 2020, MLB adopted a new rule that placed a runner on second base to begin every half inning in extra innings. This rule was implemented to make it easier for teams to score in extra innings, thereby ending the game quicker.

Doubleheaders

While a normal game in college or professional leagues lasts nine innings, there is an exception to this rule. Teams will sometimes schedule doubleheader games, where two consecutive seven-inning games are played on the same day. Although these games are shorter than regular contests, they still count as full games. This scheduling tactic is implemented in college for a number of reasons, including canceled games, expected bad weather, and lowering travel costs. In professional leagues, doubleheaders are often the result of canceled or rescheduled games.

FAQ

How long is an inning in a baseball game?

An inning in a baseball game tends to be about 20 minutes long. However, there is no set time for an inning in baseball, so the exact length of an inning can vary. The defending team must record three outs before they can switch sides and hit for their half of the inning. Each half usually takes about 10 minutes, and there is a break between halves for teams to switch sides and get in position. Once both teams have recorded three outs, the inning is over.

Why are baseball games so long?

Baseball games tend to last longer than other sports due to the slower pace of play. The average Major League game sees 300 pitches thrown, and pitchers must reset after every one. There is no constant action in baseball, and teams have to take time to switch roles each half inning, which also contributes to games being so long. In addition, baseball features a lot of substitutions for pitchers and hitters. Whenever one of these substitutions occurs, the manager must come out to announce the change, and pitchers are given time to warm up.

How long are high school baseball games?

High school baseball games are seven innings long and usually take around two hours to complete. As opposed to nine inning games in both college and professional baseball, high school teams play for seven innings, primarily to reduce fatigue for younger players. Since there are fewer innings, pitchers do not have to throw as many pitches, and players do not have to be in the field for as long.