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Baseball Overtime Rules

author image Lisa Porter
Lisa Porter began writing professionally in 2009. She writes for various websites and has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.
Baseball Overtime Rules
Extra innings settle ties in baseball.

In sports, “overtime” usually refers to the extension of a game or match to break a tie between two teams. When two baseball teams remain tied at the end of nine innings, the game continues into extra innings, a form of overtime. The official rules of Major League Baseball, or MLB, offer a standard for extra innings in competitive baseball.

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Inning Format

Extra innings follow the same format as regular innings in baseball. Each inning consists of two halves. In the first half, called the top of the inning, the visiting team bats. In the second half of the inning, called the bottom of the inning, the home team bats. An inning half ends when the fielding team gets three outs.

Ending the Game

The game must continue with extra innings until one team has scored more runs than the other team. If the visiting team scores a run to gain the lead in the top of the inning, the home team still gets to bat to complete the inning. If the visiting team remains ahead after the completed inning, the visiting team wins. If the home team scores a run to tie the score again, however, the game continues. If the home team gains the lead at any point in the bottom of an inning, the game immediately ends and the two teams do not complete the inning in progress. If the home team wins in extra innings, the game ends as soon as the winning run crosses home plate, or as soon as a runner who has hit a multiple-run home run crosses home plate. Thus, the home team has an advantage over the visiting team because it gets a chance to catch up after the visiting team gains the lead.

Called Game

If threatening weather, power failure or other circumstances require the umpire to call the game during extra innings while the score remains tied, the game will remain suspended. The teams will return to finish the game at a later time or date. If the visiting team has earned a lead during the top of the inning and the umpire calls the game at any point during that inning, the game is a regulation game and the visiting team wins.

Most Innings Ever Played

According to Baseball Almanac, the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers hold the record for the most innings ever played in a single game. The two teams had played 26 innings when the umpire called the game because the sun had gone down and the players could no longer see the ball. The final score of the 1920 game was 1-1. According to current MLB rules, no game can end in a tie.

Little League Extra Innings

Standard Little League games consist of six innings. If two teams remain tied at the end of six innings, the game continues into extra innings. The game ends when the visiting team has earned an advantage by the end of an entire inning or when the home team earns an advantage at any point in the bottom of an inning.

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