How many innings are there in a College Baseball game? Comparing and contrasting rules with MLB

How does NCAA baseball differ from the MLB in terms of game length?
How does NCAA baseball differ from the MLB in terms of game length?

When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced a sweeping new list of rules to be enacted in the 2023 season, it's fair to say that some fans were more than a little bit spooked.

The rules, which included bans on defensive shifts, larger base sizes, and of course, the pitch clock, were aimed at shortening games and stiumulating offense.

After two months of play, the results have yielded more or less exactly the results that the MLB expected. The average game is down to under 3 hours, and run production and stolen base numbers are through the roof.

"A college baseball game just ended on a pitch clock violation....the future of the game" - Riley

Under the pitch clock rules, pitchers have fifteen seconds to deliver their pitch, or twenty seconds if there are runners on base. Conversely, a hitter needs to be ready to hit after eight seconds. Failure by either party will result in a strike or ball being added to the count, depending on who committed the infraction.

With the exception of some players, like Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres, who claimed that he would "be starting a lot of counts down 0-1", the new rules were a big success. It has allowed the typical 9-inning pro game to be fit into a neater time frame.

But how does NCAA baseball differ from the MLB in terms of game length? While college baseball followed the big leagues in implementing a pitch clock, there are some instances in which a game may be shorter than nine innings.

The first, and most common reason for a game to last seven, rather than nine innings, is the mercy rule. As per college rules, if one team is up by ten runs or more after seven innings, then the game will be called.

"Colin Cowherd and casuals everywhere are punching air about this Vandy-Evansville game. Thank GOD college baseball hasn’t adopted the runner on 2nd in extra innings rule." - College Baseball Central

Additionally, sometimes college doublehaders can be shorter. While the MLB adopted a pair of seven-inning doubleheaders in 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are common in the NCAA. No six hour wait between Boston Red Sox games in college!

NCAA baseball is mirroring the MLB more and more

With the adoption of the pitch clock among other things, college baseball is following the MLB. While there may not be anyone capable of hitting with the likes of Aaron Judge, the NCAA continues to be one of big league's biggest feeders.

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Edited by Adrian Dorney
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