Pitch Clock Goes to College

NCAA Baseball Requires Pitch Clock in 2020

It is hard to determine the direction of the flow but the exchange of information, game trends, scouting and even hiring choices has been connecting NCAA baseball and MLB for decades. Top college coaches have used drills, analytics and metric driven game strategy in advance of many major league teams. Unlike a major league organization, which can cover poor fundamentals with blanket of raw talent, college instructors must “coach up” their players. Major league teams are hiring college coaches with little or no professional experience onto big league staffs. Why? Because college instructional methods (along with their use of data) are more efficient and more easily understood by the team’s analytics department.

Sharing Pace of Play Trends

Like MLB games, the length of college games is under major scrutiny. After nearly a decade of discussion, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the pitch clock after the Baseball Rules Committee made the recommendation in July.

MLB implemented pitch clocks in the minor leagues (MiLB) in 2015 and into spring training games in 2019. Many college programs and conferences have been using the pitch clock for several years and rarely have pitchers or batters been penalized for playing too slow.

NCAA Pitch Clock


  • 20 second clock used only when bases are unoccupied
  • Pitcher violation – ball
  • Hitter violation – strike
  • If no clock present, an umpire on the field keeps time

Pitcher Details

  • Clock STARTS when pitcher receives the ball on the mound
  • Clock STOPS when pitcher begins his pitching motion
  • One warning per pitcher
  • Stepping off does not restart the clock
  • Clock paused until pitcher returns to mound after a play or fielder returns to his position
  • Catcher should throw the ball back to the pitcher immediately or the clock will start
  • Common sense delays are permitted – tie shoes, clean glasses, etc.
  • If time expires at the same time pitcher begins his windup – no penalty

Batters Beware

  • 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 a violation occurs, any ensuing play is nullified
  • No arguing permitted
  • Time paused if batter is granted “time” (legitimate reason)
  • No “time” granted with less than five seconds left

Umpire Stuff

  • When a clock is visible on the field, the home plate umpire shall administer the clock and penalties
  • When signaling for a reset of the clock, the plate umpire shall rotate his hand above his head in a horizontal arc
  • When resuming play, the umpire will point the ball back in play











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