I feel like a broken record — Doug Nikhazy dazzled again in a series opener.
The Rebel ace threw 111 pitches Thursday night, striking out a career-high 13 batters faced as Ole Miss (37-16, 17-11 SEC) took game one from the Georgia Bulldogs 2-0 in Athens. The Rebels will end the regular season 7-1 in SEC games where Doug gets the start on the hill.
Career-high 13 Ks for @DougNikhazy!— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2021
The offensive fireworks weren’t there for either side on Thursday as the only two runs of the ballgame came via a Justin Bench RBI single and a Kevin Graham sac fly, but it was enough for Ole Miss to secure the win and likely a regional host spot when those are announced in a couple of weeks.
The Rebs are on the board! @JBench_2 drives McCants home.— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2021
Another win in Athens would be great, but 17 SEC wins with Ole Miss’ RPI, helped in large part due to the Rebels sweeping its season-opening action in Arlington, probably gets the job done. If you’re Ole Miss, you knew getting one win in Athens was crucial. Anything else was gravy.
Best pitcher in the SEC?— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2021
BEST. PITCHER. IN. THE. SEC! pic.twitter.com/0fWN8ztLXC
Speaking of gravy, the Rebels have a chance to get some the rest of the weekend. Derek Diamond and Drew McDaniel will take the hill for Ole Miss in the final two games of the series which will be aired on SEC Network (national TV, baby!). Diamond and McDaniel have struggled the second and third time through an opponent’s lineup this season, but with Ole Miss using only Taylor Broadway out of the bullpen on Thursday, the relief corps should be pretty fresh at least for Friday’s game.
If Ole Miss can snag at least one of the next two games, it leaves no doubt (of which there is little to begin with) this team will be hosting in June. What’s crucial for Ole Miss regardless of where it plays its regional is that the Rebels play clean baseball when that time comes. The Rebels’ pitching depth isn’t built for a rough outing in a regional. In fact, it’s probably built better for a super regional, if we’re being honest, since you only have to win two of those games.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. The Rebels and Bulldogs still have some games to play, the first of which will be Friday night at 7 p.m. on the aforementioned SEC Network. Go take care of business, boys.