Blog > 08 March, 2023

How does baseball scoring work?

A primer on how points are scored in baseball. Covers terms like innings, runs and home runs. Also includes an explanation of what's shown on a scoreboard.



Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it has been around for more than 150 years. One of the things that makes baseball unique is the way that the game is scored. For beginners, baseball scoring can be quite confusing. But with a little bit of guidance, it's actually quite simple. In this article, we'll explore the basics of baseball scoring, and give you all the information you need to understand how it works.

A baseball pitch see from above

They basic aim in baseball is that players score by hitting the ball and running all 4 bases to end up back on the home plate.


An inning is simply a period of play. Each inning has 2 halves, called the "top" and "bottom". The top half of the inning is when the visiting team (aka "road team") bats and can score, while the bottom half is when the home team bats and scores. When a team is not batting, they have nine position players who defend, called fielders.

The number of innings in a game is determined by the level of baseball being played:

  • In Major League Baseball, a game is played over nine innings.
  • In the minor leagues, a game is played over seven innings.
  • In high school and college baseball, a game is played over seven innings.
  • In Little League, a game is played over six innings.

In the event of a tie after the standard number of innings, extra innings are played until one team scores more runs, similar to overtime. During extra innings, teams alternate between batting and fielding. If the visiting team gains the lead in the top half of an extra inning, the home team has the opportunity to tie or take the lead during their turn at bat in the bottom half. Conversely, if the home team takes the lead in the bottom half of an extra inning, the game immediately ends, as the away team no longer has a chance to score before the inning concludes. Walk-off hits are game-ending hits that occur during the bottom of the ninth inning or extra innings.

How to score in baseball

A baseball diamond seen from above

Points are scored as follows:

  1. The pitcher throws the ball and the batter tries to hit the ball with the bat and send it into the field of play.
  2. If the batter successfully hits the ball (simply called a hit), he drops the bat and begins to run to first base.
  3. If the ball is caught by a fielder before it hits the ground, the batter is out. If the ball is hit and bounces in the field, the fielders will try to pick up the ball and throw it to another fielder who is closer to the player who is running.
  4. If the runner reaches first base before the fielder catches the ball or before the ball is thrown to first base, he is safe.
  5. The runner must touch each base in order, running from first to second, then to third, and finally to home plate. If the runner successfully touches all bases and returns to home plate before the fielders get the ball back to home plate, he scores a run for his team.
  6. If the batter hits the ball out of the playing field (in fair territory), it is called a home run, and the batter, as well as any other runners who were on base, score a run.
  7. Hits are categorized into four main categories: singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. A single is when the batter hits the ball and it lands in fair territory, and the batter is able to reach first base safely. A double is able to reach second base safely, and so on.

In the end of the game, the team with the most runs wins!

What is shown on a baseball scoreboard?

A baseball scoreboard

Typically, a scoreboard would show the following information:

  • The team names.
  • The runs each team scored per inning.
  • The number of pitches (P), runs (R), hits (H), and errors (E) per team.
  • The scoreboard may also show stats on the current batter. In the case of the example above, it shows the batter's number (AT BAT), the number of pitches he has seen, and the number of strikes and balls he has received.

That's it!

Do you have further questions or comments about baseball scoring? Let us know in the comments below!