NCAA Appendix F Pitch/Between Innings Clock Protocol
Pitch/Between Innings Clock Protocol
Consistent enforcement of the time limits between innings and between pitches is important to a game’s pace of play. A visible clock makes this easier for coaches, players and umpires based on the experiences at other levels of baseball and in the administration of other sports. The use of a visible clock is recommended, but conferences may choose to instruct on-field umpires to use a timing device (e.g. stopwatch). In either case, these time limits must be administered consistently at all levels of NCAA play.
20-Second Pitch Clock Limit
1. The 20-second time limit (or clock) starts when the pitcher receives the ball on the mound and stops when the pitcher begins his pitching motion. (For the first pitch each half-inning, the 20-second clock begins when the umpire puts the ball into play.) The time limit (or clock) is used only when the bases are unoccupied. If a pitcher violates the 20-second rule he shall be warned by the umpire. After a pitcher is warned, if he continues to violate the rule, a ball will be awarded for each violation. There is one warning per pitcher.
2. A pitcher stepping off the rubber does not stop the time limit (or clock) unless the umpire grants the pitcher time.
3. The time (or clock) is paused for the pitcher to reach the mound area if the pitcher is out of the 18-foot circle for the purpose of making or backing up a play. The time (or clock) is paused if a player is returning to his position (a batter-runner returning to a base after a foul ball or a fielder returning after attempting to field a foul ball). If the catcher holds the ball and does not throw it back immediately to the pitcher, the time (or clock) will start. If a batter runs on a foul ball, the time (or clock) will not start until he returns to the dirt area of the plate, unless he delays his return. Common sense delays, such as but not limited to, when a player asks for time to tie his shoes, clean his glasses, etc., the time (or clock) should restart as soon as the player finishes, not when the umpire signals “play.” The player in question does not get a reset of the full 20 seconds.
4. A strike results if the batter is not in the box ready to take the pitch with five seconds or less showing on the clock and time expires. When there is a timing or clock violation, no pitch will result and either a ball or strike is called depending on the violation and any ensuing play is nullified. Following a team warning, if a coach, student-athlete, manager or any other nonplaying personnel argues any penalty or timing procedure, the offender is subject to an immediate ejection. The head coach is allowed to bring a clock malfunction or misapplication of protocol to the umpire’s attention.
Coaches, student-athletes and umpires are to adhere to Rule 7-1-d as written related to the Batter’s Box Rule.
5. The time (or clock) is paused if the batter is granted time by the umpire with five or more seconds showing on the clock. The request for time by the batter must be for legitimate reasons and is not to be granted if the request is to delay the game. Unless unusual circumstances warrant, time will not be granted to the batter with less than five seconds remaining.
If the pitcher and batter are in position when the time (or clock) reaches zero, the umpire will call “Time” before awarding the ball or strike.
In judging guilt, if neither the pitcher nor batter is ready, the pitcher is responsible. A batter does not have to be ready to hit when the pitcher is off the rubber. A batter must not be allowed to get ready to hit just before the five-second limit, and then request time. He may be granted time if the pitcher holds him too long in his batting position.
6. If the time limit expires at the same time the pitcher begins his windup, there is no penalty and any signal is ignored.
7. The 20-second time limit is in effect for the entire game (extra innings included).
It is the plate umpire’s job to administer the clock and any penalties when there is a visible clock in the outfield. If there is no visible clock in the outfield, the clock is kept by the base umpire.
8. When resuming the time clock, the umpire will point the ball back in play. When resetting the time or clock is necessary, the plate umpire will signal with a hand held high above the head and rotated in a horizontal arc.
Between Innings for the 120-Second Time Limit (or Clock)
1. Between innings, teams have 120 seconds to be ready for the first pitch (pitcher holding the ball and touching the pitcher’s plate) and a batter standing in the batter’s box ready to hit. The 120-second clock shall start when all defensive players have started to leave their positions after the last out has been made and stops when the umpire calls “Play” for the first pitch of the first batter of the next half-inning. If there are unusual circumstances that prevent either team from getting on or off the field, other common sense delays such as ceremonies or field maintenance not the fault of the teams, or an injury, the time clock is delayed until players have had an opportunity to begin to move to their positions. Either team may use one of its charged conferences to avoid a 120-second clock penalty. If the offensive team is not ready within the 120-second time limit, the umpire shall call a strike. If the defense is not ready, a ball shall be awarded to the first batter.
2. At the beginning of a game (first inning for each starting pitcher) or for any subsequent relief pitcher who enters the game to start an inning, the clock should start as indicated above; however, by rule he is entitled to eight warmup pitches and is allowed to complete those without penalty should the clock expire.
3. For all games the time limit shall be 120 seconds between each half-inning unless specified by NCAA or conference contract provisions. The home institution will notify the visiting team and umpires if there will be an extension of the 120-second provision.
4. With 30 seconds left, the base umpire will visually cue the plate umpire, who will then signal to the pitcher and catcher, “30 seconds left,” and summon the lead-off batter to the plate.
5. Continuing pitchers shall have the 120-second time limit to complete their five warm-up pitches.
Note: During a game, the game pitcher may use the bullpen mound during an inning when his team is at bat if he does not delay the start of the next half inning. Penalty is dictated by this protocol.
6. If the catcher is the third out or on base when the third out is made, the offensive team should have someone ready to warm up the pitcher. Umpires will not grant additional warm-ups if the 120-second time limit expires. In the event that the catcher was on base or the last to bat: if the catcher is not out of the dugout at the “30 seconds left” reminder and another player is warming up the pitcher, the umpire will hold up the pitcher with one warmup pitch left and wait for the game catcher to arrive. This will allow the game catcher to throw the ball down following the last warm-up pitch.
7. Following a team warning, if a coach, student-athlete, manager or any nonplaying personnel argues any penalty or timing procedure, the offender is subject to immediate ejection without warning. The head coach is allowed to bring a clock malfunction or misapplication of the protocol to the umpire’s attention.
8. The 120-second pitch clock is enforced even if a coach or player continues to argue an inning-ending play and the clock expires.
Note: It is permissible to use a portable visible clock to show the time remaining between innings but have the 20-second interval between pitches kept by the umpires on the field.
Location of the Clock
Each conference will determine if a visible clock will be used for all games or conference games only and if the time clock will be kept by the umpire crew on the field. If a conference determines to use a visible clock, the clock shall be positioned on the outfield scoreboard or atop the outfield fence either in left or right centerfield. The clock should be readily visible to the batter, catcher and home plate umpire.
Individual schools within a conference are not to determine if they will install a visible clock. If a conference does not approve that a visible clock will be used for all games or conference games only, the time limits are to be kept by the umpires on the field.
Personnel to Operate the Clock
Each conference is responsible for developing guidelines for training qualified individuals to operate the clock during games.
No Visible Clock Available or Malfunction of the Clock
If the time clock malfunctions, time will be kept on the field by the second base umpire in a four-man or six-man crew; third base umpire in a three-man crew; and the base umpire in a two-man crew.