Complete versus suspended and the end of game procedures for baseball and softball games



There are no ties in baseball.


It says so in the rules. Yet every spring, Jerry Snodgrass, the Ohio High School Athletic Association assistant commissioner and the head of rules and regulations for baseball, sees a couple records with a win column, a loss column and a tie column. The head of rules and regulations for softball for the OHSAA is Roxanna Price, but the rules determining ties and the end of game procedures are the same for both sports.


The rule for a tie falls under the End of Game (Suspended/Complete Game) Procedures on page 17 of the 2014 OHSAA Baseball Coaches Guide and page 25 of the 2014 Softball Manual for Coaches & Officials.


So do the rules for a suspended game, complete game and a no contest. They’re rules that will likely be used a lot this spring due to the weather. Like all other sports, the rules followed by baseball and softball are the ones set forth by the National Federation of High Schools.


Consequences for not following the rules range from a fine to a suspension from the OHSAA Tournament.


With the possibility of every spring season being full of rain, the following procedures laid out by the NFHS and OHSAA should help cut down on some of the confusion that often exists.


To start off let’s just keep it simple:


  • Most games end at in the seventh inning with one team leading another. Example: State title game last year: Archbishop Moeller beats St. Ignatius, 7-1.
  • The game can also be won in extra innings. Example: In the Div. III state semifinal game last year, Wheelersburg eat Youngstown Ursuline 2-0 in eight innings.
  • A game cannot be forfeited unless it has been started. If not, it’s considered a “no contest.”


So far, so simple. Now here comes the confusion:

  • A game is  complete without the full seven innings if a team has a 10-run lead and the team that is behind has completed its at bats in the fifth inning or if the home team takes that 10-run lead in the fifth inning. Example: In last year’s state quarterfinals, the game between St. Ignatius and Toledo St. Francis ended after five innings because Ignatius led 14-0.
  • Both coaches and the  plate umpire (three people) can mutually agree to end a game early IF a team has a tremendous lead after 2 or 3 innings, or if both coaches just agree to end the game. Example: St. Ignatius defeated Gahanna Lincoln on Saturday, 8-1, through just 3 2/3 inning of work when both coaches and the umpire mutually agreed to first delay and then end the game after players slipped because of field conditions.
    • Another Example: Licking Heights defeated Harvest Prep last year 65-0 after just three innings. All three sides mutually agreed to end the game before the five innings.


So what happens if bad weather comes and a regular season game has been started, can you start it over?


No. According to the rules, if a game is interrupted or suspended and it cannot be resumed that day, the game is suspended IF the team behind in the score hasn’t completed its at bats in the fifth inning.


Does this really happen?


“Yes,” Snodgrass said. “All the time. The problem comes then that it has to be scheduled to be completed for another date. And that’s hard for schools with their budgets to do.


“We don’t allow doubleheaders during the weeks because we don’t want kids out late, but say a school is playing a league game. We will allow them to finish a couple innings of one game before the start of another game against the same opponent without counting it as a double header, just to try and help out.”


What other kind of wacky way have teams tried to bend the rules because of the weather?


Snodgrass said a couple of years ago a league made their own rule that all league games would be played to completion even if a game were suspended due to the weather.


“The national rules on this don’t allow that,” Snodgrass said.” There are some unusual things here, but a game, if it’s going five innings and the visiting team has scored runs to take the lead and the home team didn’t retake the lead in the bottom of the inning, the game is over, if rain caused it to end.”


Meaning that just because the weather was the reason a team wasn’t allowed to play the one or two final innings to tie or take the lead, that doesn’t mean the game can continued to be played at a later date if all three sides agree to suspend the game due to weather. It would be considered a complete game.


“Well, they violated National playing rules,” Snodgrass said. “I didn’t know this so I had to threaten them with what happens when we don’t follow NFHS playing rules, we lose our seat at the table and we’re not willing to do that.”


That seat at the table Snodgrass is talking about is the one that allows the OHSAA to bring new rules and revisions to the table.


“It caused a little bit of an issue because that particular league or conference,” Snodgrass said.


He told them they’d either have to change or the OHSAA would have to turn themselves in and voluntarily remove themselves from NFHS voting table, which would cause backlash across all sports.


“They changed and adopted it,” Snodgrass said. “Sometimes people don’t like it but that’s just the way it is.”


Are there that many fines?


“Not that often really,” Snodgrass said.


That’s because it doesn’t happen as much as some people might think.


“When it gets unusual is when a game goes down as being suspended,” Snodgrass said. “Let’s say after four innings or five or six and it’s tied, the difficulty becomes finishing that game, because now all of a sudden, somebody has to make another trip to finish the game. In some cases, especially if it’s a league game, you have to make another trip for what, one or two innings.


“We say that a suspended game that is not finished does not go down as a win or a loss or a tie, it goes down as no game. So then you get into what you do with statistics. I don’t think you count them.”


Again, this is where that possibility of that “not-a-doubleheader-but-a-couple-innings-before-the next-game-against-the-same-opponent” plays out.


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