Division I Games Being Played At Faster Pace

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

TUCSON, Ariz. — The 20-Second Action Rule in NCAA baseball is allowing games to be played at a faster clip.

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee approved the 20-Second Action rule starting with the 2020 baseball season.

For the first time in college baseball history, a 20-second time clock was utilized in games with runners on base, as well as nobody on base.

As part of the rule, each team was allowed three offensive and six defensive conferences per game, no more than three of which may include a coach.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic stopped much of the 2020 season, and no College World Series was held on any level of college baseball, not enough games were played to find out if the rule cut significant time off games.

Therefore, the 2021 season was the first to see how well the 20-Second Action rule worked to reduce the length of games.

Collegiate Baseball received an Excel spreadsheet from NCAA Statistics that had the length of games for each contest during the entire 2021 NCAA Div. I season.

We were only interested in 9 and 7-inning games.

So that is all we focused on for consistency and not any weather-shortened games or extra-inning contests.

The average 9-inning length of games for 2021 was 2:57 which featured 5,554 entries in the spreadsheet. 

The average 7-inning length of games was 2:21 which included 1,081 entries.

The NCAA has not tracked the average time of NCAA Div. I games throughout seasons until now.

During the recent NCAA Div. I College World Series, the average time of 9-inning games was 3:11. This factored in 15 games that were 9-innings. Another game went 12 innings which wasn’t included.

The 2021 event was one of only four College World Series that averaged 3:11 or lower in the last 14 years.

It is interesting to note that six games were played under three hours. It is only the fourth time in the last 13 College World Series that six or more games during a Series were played under three hours.

The shortest game time was 2:28 in game six as N.C. State beat Vanderbilt, 1-0.

Game In Good Spot
Head Coach Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt, chairman of the 7-member Pace of Play Committee by the American Baseball Coaches Association which began in December of 2016, feels college baseball is moving in the right direction.

“It is important that we don’t tamper with the natural movements and playing procedures of the game,” said Corbin.

“Everyone is very aware of the 20-second clock. Everyone wants the game to move with a faster pace but without taking away from the game.

“As a whole, the game is a little faster. Taking away visits to the mound by defensive players and coaches helps to some degree as well as visits between coaches and players on offense.

“From a consumer’s perspective, if we can roll out games that are played between two and three hours, that is more advantageous to getting good crowds, especially in February and March since most of the country is dealing with cold weather. You still have basketball going on as well.”

To read more of this story, purchase the Sept. 3, 2021 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin delves more deeply into this topic and talks about why the 20-second game clock has caused issues and has not been enforced consistently in college baseball — even at the 2021 College World Series. The story also explains what the actual time of game action is in contests and what the goal has been of the 7-member Pace of Play Committee to reduce the length of games, plus much more.