The 7 Ways to End a Baseball Game


7 Ways to End a Baseball Game

When determining the winner of a baseball game, the rules seem fairly straightforward – the team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. But unlike other sports, baseball does not have a timer. There are ways to estimate how much time is left, but nothing is telling you how much time you have before the game ends. When does a baseball game end?

A baseball game ends when one team is leading after completing the minimum number of innings for a regulation game, which is usually nine innings. If a game is unplayable due to weather, the game ends early when one team is leading after completing the minimum number of innings, which is usually five.

Most games will finish with nine innings being completed, but there are a handful of other ways that a baseball game can end without teams playing all nine innings. Keep reading to learn more about the six ways a baseball game can end.

7 Ways to End a Baseball Game

When discussing the rules around what makes a game a regulation game, most baseball fans talk about how a game ends in terms of how many innings have been played. Although, when looking at what the rules are for different baseball leagues, like the MLB, the rules determine a completed game by counting the total number of outs that have been made.

When it comes to college and professional baseball games, the number of innings in a regulation game is 9 innings. This means both the home team and away team are allowed 27 outs in one regulation game. In other baseball divisions, like high school or youth baseball, a regulation game is fewer than 9 innings.

The number of innings needed for a regulation game varies from league to league, but the way each league treats the end of the game is similar across all leagues.

So throughout this article, we’ll discuss how a baseball game ends in terms of both innings and the number of completed outs. We’ll also look at whether a rule spans across both professional and non-professional baseball, or whether it focuses on only one type of league.

1) Game Ends After All Innings of a Regulation Game Have Been Played

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies:  both professional and non-professional leagues

One of the most common ways a baseball game will end is after all innings have been completed within a regulation game. If a regulation game is 9 innings, then each team is allowed 27 outs. If a regulation game is 7 innings, then each team is allowed 21 outs.

If the game requires both teams to use every out possible to complete a regulation game, the visiting team will win. The visiting team always bats first every inning, which means the home team will be the last team to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning. If the home team needs to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning and three batters make an out, the visiting team will be the winners.

If any extra outs are needed to determine a winner, extra innings would be played.

2) Game Can End in the Bottom Half of the Last Inning

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: both professional and non-professional leagues

Another one of the most common ways a baseball game can end is when the home team is ahead at any point in the bottom half of the last inning.

If a regulation game is 9 innings, each team is allowed 27 outs. But if you are the home team and your team is ahead at any time in the bottom half of the last inning, you may only need to use 24 of your outs in the game.

On that same note, when a game is 7 innings, each team is allowed 21 outs. And if the home team takes the lead in the bottom of the 7th inning, they may only need to use 18 outs for the entire game.

The game ends early because the visiting team will not have another chance to bat once the home team takes the lead in the bottom half of the last inning. So if the home team is leading after 8 and a half innings, the game is over and the home team has won.

And because the game could end at any point the home team takes the lead, the home team might only need to use 24, 25, or 26 outs for the entire game. It just depends on what happened in the bottom of the last inning.

3) Game Can End in Extra Innings

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: both professional and non-professional leagues

Another common way a baseball game can end is in extra innings. Depending on the type of league you’re playing in, there may be a limit to how many extra innings you can play.

In professional baseball, there is no time limit. So games will continue indefinitely until one team is ahead at the end of any inning beyond the 9th inning.

In non-professional baseball leagues, there may be a time limit on the game. If there is a time limit, then the game has the potential to end in a tie if no team takes the lead. But if there is time after the last inning in regulation has completed, extra innings will still be played.

4) The Weather Ends a Game Early

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: both professional and non-professional leagues

The weather doesn’t always cooperate with baseball players. If you’ve played baseball for any length of time, you know that weather has the potential to postpone, cancel, or end a game early. Read more about why baseball isn’t played in the rain.

In the MLB, a game will end early due to weather if one team is ahead after 5 innings (or 15 outs) have been completed by each team. Whoever has the most runs after those 15 outs will be declared the winner.

If the home team is ahead after 4 and a half innings and the game is called due to weather, the home team will be awarded the victory. This is because the visiting team used the minimum number of outs needed for a game to be considered a complete game, which is 15 outs.

If the score is tied after the visiting team completed 15 outs, the game will be suspended and completed on another day.

In non-professional baseball leagues, games can be called early due to weather, but only if the game has completed the minimum number of innings to be considered a final game.

If the game was a 9 inning game, most leagues follow the same rules as the MLB, which is that the visiting team must have completed at least 15 outs for the game to be considered a final game. Whoever was ahead after 15 outs will be considered the winner.

If the game was a 7 inning game and the game was unplayable due to weather, leagues usually require the visiting team to complete at least 4 innings (12 outs) in order to mark the game as final. Whichever team was ahead after 12 outs will be considered the winner.

5) The Other Team Forfeits

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: both professional and non-professional

Although uncommon, forfeits are a part of any sport. There are many reasons why a team would forfeit, but it does happen.

Sometimes a team isn’t able to get enough players before the game starts, sometimes a player will get injured during a game and the team is unable to replace them, and sometimes a team forfeits because of fighting.

Whatever the reason, if a team has to forfeit then the game will end early. Most of the time a team forfeits, it gets marked down in the scorebook as 1-0 defeat for the team who forfeited.

6) 10 Run Rule is in Effect

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: non-professional leagues

Professional baseball leagues, like the MLB and Minor League, do not have any type of run rule in effect. They must complete the required number of innings (usually 9 innings) before a game can be finalized.

On the other hand, most non-professional baseball leagues enforce some type of run rule. A vast majority of the time you’ll see a 10 run-rule in effect, but sometimes there can be a 15 run-rule or even a 20 run-rule.

Whenever a team is ahead by the specified number of runs after a specified number of innings, the game ends and the team that is ahead wins.

For the 10 run rule to be in effect for a 9 inning game, one team must be ahead by 10 runs or more after 7 innings have been completed. If it’s a 7 inning game, then one team must be ahead by 10 runs or more after 5 innings have been completed. And if it’s a 6 inning game, at least 4 innings must have been completed.

Learn more about what is the 10 run rule in baseball.

7) Time Expires

Types of baseball leagues this rule applies: non-professional leagues

Professional baseball does not have any time limits so this rule only applies to non-professional leagues. Depending on the level of play, most non-professional baseball games have a time limit of 2 or 3 hours.

For a 9 inning game, it’s common for the time limit to be set at 3 hours. For a 7 inning game, it’s common for the time limit to be set for 2 hours.

The general rule for a time limit in non-professional baseball leagues is that an inning is unable to start after the time limit has been reached. A game can go beyond the time limit set, but a new inning will not be allowed to start once that time limit has been reached.

Whoever is ahead after the time limit is reached is declared the winner. If the game is tied, then the game is allowed to end in a tie.

Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball on two different adult baseball teams in the surrounding area.

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