How to Play Over-the-Line Baseball

Baseball Close Up & Bat

Over-the-line is a baseball variant invented in San Diego, California. The game is designed for two teams of three players officially but informal games can have up to four players. Additionally, over-the-line requires only a single bat and ball, making it much easier to gather the necessary equipment, compared with a typical baseball or softball game. Finally, because the offensive team does not run bases, over-the-line is a more relaxed and social game than baseball. It is often played on the beaches on Southern California but can be played anywhere

What is the set up for Over-The-Line?

The set up for Over-The-Line is very simple and requires very little effort or investment into equipment. It consists of three steps:

  1. Create a batting area from which the batter will hit the ball. The spot can be marked with a home plate, cone, chalk mark or any other type of marker.
  2. Define foul lines that mark the left and right boundaries of the field. The width of the field may be as wide or narrow as the players choose or the terrain permits, but official rules require that the field be 55 feet wide. They can be marked as lines in sand, chalk on ground, spray paint or even rope.
  3. Draw a line perpendicular to the two foul lines 55 feet from the batter. This is the line over which batters must hit the ball--"over the line." Though 55 feet is the official measurement, players may opt for a closer or farther line based on skill level, terrain or personal preference.
  4. Create a triangle with the three points defined by the batter's location and the two intersections of the "over-the-line" line and the foul lines. This triangle does not need to be marked in any special way, but players should be aware of the boundaries of the triangle.

What does the Offensive Team do in Over-The-Line?

Just like in baseball, the purpose of the offensive team is to score as many runs as possible. But scoring runs in over-the-line is a bit different. Here's how to score in Over-The-Line.

  1. Select a pitcher, who will pitch the ball to his own team. Next, have the pitcher stand at least 15 feet from the batter and outside the boundaries defined by the triangle. Over the line pitchers typically pitch from the side of the batter and do not stand in front of the batter as in baseball or softball. The pitcher will throw the ball in such a way that it makes it easy for the batter to hit the ball.
  2. Like in baseball, create a batting order that defines when each player will have her turn to bat. This batting order must be consistent for the entire game. The pitcher will have a chance to bat as well, and will need another player to pitch to him when he bats.
  3. The goal of an at-bat is to hit the ball over the line and between the two foul lines to score a hit. Three hits in an inning count as one run. Any hit after the first three hits also count as one run.
  4. Hit the ball over the furthest defending player's head to score a home run. A home run scores one run for every hit--including the home run--in that inning since the last home run, up to a maximum of three. A home run also starts the hit counter over, meaning the offensive team must earn three more hits before earning their next run.
  5. As the inning progresses, continue rotating batters and hitting the ball until your team earns three outs. Then, switch sides with the defensive team. The offensive team earns an out if the defensive team catches a hit ball, or if the batter fails to earn a hit after two attempts due to any combination of missed swings, balls hit beyond the foul lines or balls hit short of the "over the line" line.

What does the defensive team do in Over-The-Line?

The defensive team must prevent runs from scoring by recording three outs. They can do this in a variety of ways. Here's how the defensive side works:

  1. Position your three or four players anywhere on the field between the two foul lines and beyond the "over the line" line.
  2. Attempt to catch any ball hit by the offensive team. Catching the ball negates the team's hit and earns the offensive team one out. Three outs end the offensive team's inning.
  3. Outrun any balls that the offensive team hits over the heads of the defensive players. If a ball lands further than any defensive player, the offensive team earns a home run. If, however, a defensive player can move himself to a position farther than the ball before it lands, the offensive team earns only a single hit.

How many innings does a game of Over-The-Line last?

Play in Over-The-Line lasts four innings, with each team having four at-bats. If the score is tied at the end of four innings, continue play until one team has more runs. If the game is still tied after six innings, the win goes to the team with the greatest number of hits.