Baseball Extra Innings Rules

Frank Jones

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How Long Do the Extra Innings Continue

Baseball Extra Innings Rules

In the history of Baseball, the situation when the match has a tie till the final inning is not a rare case. Indeed, it happens so often and Baseball doesn’t stand with a tie at any cost. To escape that, there is a rule that players have been following for decades. Well, this is the baseball extra-innings rule.

Generally, the extra inning rules indicated a few more innings after the regular innings as the match didn’t get any winner till then. The additional inning will be continued until the officials determine a winning team that scores more.

There is no hard and fast rule of the extra innings about the number of the innings. The players will be playing one inning after another until one wins. That’s why this extra-inning system is often determined as a test of endurance and exhaustion for the players.

What Is the Extra Innings Rule in Baseball?

What Is the Extra Innings Rule in Baseball

Usually, a baseball game consists of nine innings ( nine for MLB and lower for other leagues) where each team gets a chance to bat and play defense in each inning. Sometimes, the game is tied even after nine innings.

In such a situation, the game needs some extra innings until a team wins the match. And the rules for these additional innings are called the extra inning rules. 

During extra innings, each team continues taking turns at bat and playing defense. They continue it until one team scores more runs than the opponent during an inning. As soon as one team scores more runs in an inning than the opponent, it will win the match.

It is completely impossible to determine how many innings are essential to get the winners. Eventually, there is a record that a match on April 18–19, and June 23, 1981 (Rochester Red Wings Vs Pawtucket Red Sox) needed 24 innings as the extra innings and there were 33 innings in total. However, Pawtucket won the match.

The rules of the extra innings are used in the baseball leagues in almost all countries, including America and Japan. It helps to get the winner instead of announcing a tied match. 

How Long Do the Extra Innings Continue?

How Long Do the Extra Innings Continue

As I’ve just said, it is not possible to determine when and after how many innings the match will end. The match will continue until the officials will get the winner. And the winner can only be announced when one team manages to score more than its opponent in the additional innings. 

In most cases, baseball matches need 3 to 5 extra innings. But there are records for 7, 10, 18, and even 25 innings in a match. The additional innings can be ended early in the bottom half of the inning. In such a case, the situation stands for the statement that the home team doesn’t record three outs. 

It can usually happen when the home team scores a go-ahead run. In this case, the game ends immediately, and it doesn’t even matter how many outs have been recorded in the innings. So, the length of the extra innings sessions can vary and it depends on the performances of the teams. 

What Is the Ghost Runner Rule?

When you are enjoying a long baseball match with some extra innings, the term ‘ghost runner’ will appear so often. It’s because the term is closely related to the fact of extra innings. Usually, the ghost runner rules and the extra innings rules are sort of the same thing.

But MLB, MiLB, and College League Baseball have implemented some new rules in the extra innings system. And the set of the new rules is known as the Ghost Runner rules. So, you can say that the new version of the extra innings rule is the Ghost Runner rule.

Extra Innings Rule in Different Leagues

Extra Innings Rule in Different Leagues

Generally, Extra innings are implemented in most baseball leagues, including the MLB and College Baseball League. But the rules ain’t the same for all those leagues.

The rules of the extra innings were the same as the regular innings a few years back. But, MLB first changed it and applied some new rules for the extra innings. Before applying the new rules, MLB experimented with them in the Minor League and when MiLB found them successful, MLB adopted the rules permanently.

However, following MLB, College League, and World Baseball Classic also started applying the rule. But they made necessary changes to cope with the needs of the game.

1. Extra Innings Rule in MLB

Usually, extra innings were always there in the MLB. But the new formats with some applied rules were added before the 2020 season. In the beginning, the new rules were experimented with in the minor league for a few years. After the successful implementation, MLB officials adopted it. Eventually, the new set of rules was applied in the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Indeed, MLB has made the rules permanent.

Before the new rules were implemented, there were no differences between the 10th inning and the innings before that. But after the implementation of the new changes, each half of the extra innings will be started with a runner who is already on second base.

In this case, the batting team can’t select the player for that second base. Indeed, the last batter who made an out in the previous inning will be selected for the second. As a result, both teams will have equal opportunities to have good scores. At the same time, it will help to end the match sooner. 

2. Extra Innings Rule in College League Baseball

Following MLB, College League also started applying the new Extra innings rules in 2021. Basically, the NCAA started following the rules in College League baseball. But they added a sort of new rule which is known as the designated runner rule. 

Eventually, in the College League extra innings system, each half of a new inning will be started with a runner from second base. And the runner shouldn’t have an out. Also, the match will continue until a team scores more by the inning’s bottom half end. 

Here, the visiting team will have no chance to win until the home team has its final at-bat. Following MLB, the match will be ended when the home team will score the go-ahead run. 

3. Extra Innings Rule in World Baseball Classic

The WBC didn’t apply any new rules until now. Indeed, in the last match, it was following the same extra innings rule that MLB followed before 2020. That means the 10th innings will continue just like the prior innings. 

In this case, if the match has a tie even in the 10th inning, an at-bat will begin in the next inning. And the runner in first and second base can start the match. The base runner will be the last player to get the bat.

It is the common extra innings rule that WBC followed in their last match. Eventually, they are moving with the classic extra innings rule till now. So, fans who don’t like the new rules in the extra innings can enjoy WBC like before.

4. Extra Innings in Other Leagues

Like MLB and College League Baseball, High School Leagues and Little Leagues also have extra innings. But they don’t usually follow any sort of new rules. Here the system is pretty much like the one WBC follows. 

If the officials cannot determine a winner by the end of the seventh or the sixth inning, they announce the extra innings. And these additional innings will be continued just like the previous one until one team wins the match with at least 6 runs. That’s simple.

So, these are the system of the extra innings in different Baseball Leagues. Here, MLB, MiLB, and College League Baseball follow the newly renovated rules whereas WBC, High School League, and Little League follow the classic rules. 


Q: Who can be the ghost runner in extra innings?

A: The player who makes the final out in the earlier inning is selected as the ghost runner to go to second base in the next extra inning. Usually, the ghost runner is the player who can start the next innings.

Q: What is the Baseball extra-innings tiebreaker rule?

A: The Baseball extra innings tiebreaker rule in the MLB indicates a runner will be automatically placed at second base and will begin each extra inning. This rule is implemented so that the match will be ended soon and both teams get an equal chance to win the match.

Q: What is the ‘Walk-off’ in the extra innings?

A: Usually, walk-off is the term used in the extra innings of a baseball match. The situation happens when the home team wins in the bottom of an extra inning and the losing team just walks off the field so that the winners can celebrate.

Wrapping Up

Baseball’s extra innings rule is, no doubt, a very essential system that prevents the match from getting a tie. That’s why when a match starts extra innings, it becomes the cause of more excitement and fun for the audiences.

Still, it can extend the match to the undetermined innings and that can be a cause of exhaustion for the players and they can have unwanted injuries. That’s why the system of extra innings is not always so pleasing for the players.

I’ve tried to explain the entire fact of extra innings. Hopefully, you’ve understood it well. Still, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section. Thank you for your time.

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