Nikhazy strikes out 13, Rebels beat Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. - Doug Nikhazy recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts on the mound while No. 11 Ole Miss did just enough offensively to secure a series-opening, 2-0 shutout victory against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Nikhazy (W 8-2) threw 115 pitches in seven innings while only giving up four hits in the process. Taylor Broadway recorded his 11th save of the season, moving him into the top five in program history for saves in a single season.
TJ McCants led the Rebels offensively, going 2-for-4 at the plate with Justin Bench and Kevin Graham both knocking him home during the pitcher’s duel Thursday night.
After six combined strikeouts between Nikhazy and Luke Wagner in the first inning, Chaney Rogers delivered the first hit of the game in the bottom of the second. Nikhazy responded by striking out two of the next three batters en route to the third inning. In the top half of that second frame, Wagner left the game after being hit with a line drive off the bat of Justin Bench.
New Georgia pitcher Michael Polk went 1-2-3 through the Ole Miss lineup while the Bulldogs found themselves in scoring position with two on and one out. Nikhazy got out of the jam and set his team up to break through in the fourth inning. McCants hit a leadoff single while a walk issued to Graham later put two on with two outs. Bench drew first blood with a single to left field that scored McCants and gave Ole Miss a 1-0 lead.
Over the next two innings, Nikhazy and Polk continued to deal on the mound before the Rebels capitalized on another leadoff hit in the sixth inning. Once again it was McCants that got on board with a first-pitch single and was later pushed to second after Peyton Chatagnier was beaned by Polk. A fly out by Jacob Gonzalez moved both runners closer while Graham brought McCants home on a sac fly to make it 2-0 Rebels. Georgia had a leadoff hit of its own in the bottom half of the inning, but a double play and strikeout kept the shutout alive.
Darryn Pasqua started the seventh inning out of the Bulldog bullpen and immediately put two Rebels on after a walk to Hayden Dunhurst and Tim Elko single. Pasqua responded with three consecutive strikeouts while Nikhazy struck out two of the next three Bulldogs to reach a career-high 13.
Ole Miss had a golden opportunity to blow the game open with three-consecutive singles by Chatagnier, Gonzalez and Graham to load the bases with no outs. Bench fouled out while the Bulldogs caught Chatagnier in a rundown to get a quick two outs. After a three-pitch strikeout by Collin Caldwell to Dunhurst, the Rebels came away completely empty-handed.
Broadway came out of the Rebel bullpen in the bottom of the eighth after a career night by Nikhazy. Collins hit a two-out double to right field, but Broadway got out of the inning and gave Georgia only three more outs to work with. Ole Miss stranded two in the ninth while Broadway logged the final three outs with little issue to secure a series-opening victory and his 11th save of the season.
The Rebels will look to take the series tomorrow at Foley Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network+
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