College Baseball: New Rule Changes

In recent months, baseball has been a rapidly changing sport. Major League Baseball has approved some earth-shaking rule changes, including a pitch clock and restrictions on the shift. Although college baseball already had a pitch clock– referred to by the NCAA as an “action clock– they’ve made some alterations of their own. While these flew under the radar after being announced in August, it’s worth taking a look.

Clock Resets

Under previous rules, a step-off, pickoff move, and even a fake pickoff would all reset the 20-second action clock. Obviously, this created a massive loophole for players to use, so the NCAA is limiting that. With runners on base, pitchers can only reset the clock once. Additionally, batters are only allowed one timeout per plate appearance. 

Both these changes allow for a faster paced game during situations where pitchers love to slow the tempo. Similar to the new MLB rule, a ball will be given out if a pitcher broke the rule, while a strike is tacked onto the count if the batter isn’t in the box by a certain point in the clock.

Pitch clocks are certainly a divisive topic in baseball, but they’ve been a part of college baseball since the 2020 season. As players get more comfortable with the concept, games will be shorter and pace of play will be speedier. Is that good for the sport? I’ll leave that for the reader to decide. 

Other Changes

Aside from action clock revisions, there were some other small changes announced. First, umpires will have increased replay abilities: they’ll be able to review whether a play contained “malicious contact” or catcher’s interference.

There are also new rules about fencing and netting near team dugouts, coach appeals, props for celebration, and the amount of umpires needed to play a game. One other significant rule change is the adoption of the “ghost runner.” Like MLB announced a few years prior, extra innings now begin with a runner on second base. However, this rule is decided by conferences or a consensus between the two teams playing.

Like it or not, baseball is in a fluid state as the foundations of the sport are being questioned. Hopefully these changes will increase viewership and improve the game as we know it.