There are nine innings in a standard, full-length Major League Baseball game.
In those nine innings, each team comes to bat nine times, hitting until the defensive team records three outs.
The visiting (aka, “away” or “road” team) bats in the top of each inning, with the home team batting in the bottom of each inning — that’s a total of 18 half innings in a full nine-inning contest.
However the home team does NOT bat in the bottom of the ninth inning if they are already leading after the top of the ninth — they have already won the game, so there is no point in their batting again.
When do games NOT last nine innings?
There are times when MLB games do not last the full nine innings, but still count as official games. Among those are …
- Inclement weather prevents further play, but the teams have completed five full innings (or four-and-a-half in the case the home team is ahead).
- Darkness prevents further play, but the teams have completed five full innings (or four-and-a-half in the case the home team is ahead) — a rare occasion, indeed in modern times.
- Forfeit by one team.
Of course, major league games may also last more than nine innings if the teams play to a tie after nine frames.
Other versions and levels of the game also don’t typically play nine innings:
- Most college games are scheduled for nine innings, but there are provisions that allow umpires to shorten those contests.
- Each half of a college doubleheader lasts just seven innings.
- High school games last seven innings.
- Little League games last six innings.
- Most softball leagues play seven-inning games, while youth softball typically falls back to six innings.