NCAA College Baseball Rules

Missouri v Kansas State

A lot of baseball's biggest stars get their start in college baseball, which makes it an attractive draw for any baseball fan. However, it's much different from your average Major League Baseball game and has a lot of rule changes instituted by the National Collegiate Athletics Association, or NCAA. While the overall tenets of how a baseball game is played are largely the same, specific rule changes make both playing, watching and coaching the game slightly different.

What is the NCAA Mercy Rule?

The NCAA prefers that teams play all nine innings in regular season games but a mercy rule can be applied in two ways depending on game length.

  • Nine Inning:​ In a nine inning game, if a team is up by 10 runs after seven innings (or six-and-a-half if the home team is ahead), the game can be called.
  • Seven Inning:​ In a seven-inning game, the rule is employed after the fifth inning. This rule is not used in NCAA tournament games.

How these rules are applied depends on the conference of plat. Some conferences choose to only institute the mercy rule after seven innings on Sundays or in the final game of a conference series. This allows the visiting team to get an early start on traveling.

Is there a Designated Hitter in NCAA Baseball?

In professional baseball, the designated hitter (DH) is used in all games played in American League ballparks. The NCAA also uses a DH. However, in college baseball a player may serve as both the pitcher and the DH. Furthermore, if that player is replaced as either pitcher or DH, he could remain in the game in his other role.

How many innings are in a college baseball game?

A NCAA baseball game is normally scheduled for nine innings but it can be tweaked depending on a number of scenarios and situations.

NCAA baseball games can be shortened to seven innings if two games are being played in one day. This can be in the case of a scheduled double-header, or if a make-up game is bring played on the same day as a regularly scheduled game.

A seven-inning game may also be played on the final day of a series depending on the conference. However, the NCAA has encouraged schools and conferences to play as many full nine-inning games as possible throughout the season. The NCAA does not allow the shortening of any conference tournament games or College World Series games.

Is there a ban on aggressive base running in NCAA baseball?

In the NCAA, if a base runner collides ​maliciously​ with a defender who is trying to tag or force him out, the runner may be ejected at the umpire's discretion. Also, an automatic double play may be called if a sliding base runner tries to take out a defender who is attempting to complete a double play.

In Major League Baseball, there is more discretion given for hard-nosed baseball in which a runner tries to break up a double play. But, in the college game there is more strict penalties for plays that could lead to injuries of college athletes.