Mississippi State baseball makes most of College World Series stage as Bulldogs set NCAA record for strikeouts in season

OMAHA, Neb. -- When Mississippi State right-hander Preston Johnson got Virginia shortstop Nic Kent to swing and miss on an 0-2 breaking ball, the whiff made college baseball history Tuesday night.

The K recorded in the bottom of the second inning of Tuesday night's College World Series Game 8 was the 766th strikeout recorded by Bulldogs pitchers, the most ever by a single team in a single season. For good measure, Johnson struck out the next batter too, as Cavaliers leftfielder Alex Tappen was caught looking at a 1-2 fastball.

Mississippi State won 6-5. They recorded six strikeouts in the victory to increase their season total to 771.

In recent years, strikeouts have increased throughout all levels of baseball as pitchers have begun hyper-focusing on spin rates and hitters have all but given up on small ball in lieu of big swings. The college baseball record for strikeouts per nine innings in a season that was set in 1998 stood until 2016. Now, that record has been bested every season since, led this year by Mississippi State, which had a rate of 12.5 per nine innings as the Bulldogs entered Tuesday's game.

In their nail-biting 1-0 win over Texas Sunday night, the Bulldogs struck out 21 Longhorns, breaking a CWS single-game record set in 1968, while Texas pitchers added 12 Ks of their own.

The only question now is what Mississippi State's final 2021 strikeout tally will be.