There was no shortage of offensive fireworks for Ole Miss on Saturday night as the Rebels piled up 16 hits en route to a 12-3 win over Arizona in the Tucson Super Regional.
Doug Nikhazy was once again brilliant on the hill for the Rebels, although Arizona did force his pitch count up, causing him to exit after just 5.1 innings. Still, he got the job done, and he left with a massive lead and was credited with the win. He now sits at 12-2 on the year.
The Rebel scoring started early with a Jacob Gonzalez leadoff home run in the first inning followed by a six-spot in the bottom of the second. With a 7-0 lead after two innings and Doug Nikhazy on the hill for Ole Miss, this one never really felt in doubt.
What’s also huge is that Austin Miller was able to come in with a giant lead, only gave up one run, and closed out the game after Nikhazy’s exit in the sixth. The Rebels enter tonight’s action with an almost entirely fresh bullpen, and the importance of that cannot be understated.
Nikhazy was brilliant on Saturday, striking out 10 and joining some elite company in the process. If the Rebels are pull off the backdoor Super Regional, he has a shot to be alone at the top of the single season strikeouts list.
Now, after all of the strangeness of this season, after all the injury and difficulty, this team finds itself one win away from a trip to Omaha. If you had told me at the beginning of this season that the Rebels would lose Gunnar Hoglund, Max Cioffi and (largely) Tim Elko to injury this season, I would have entered a nuclear fallout shelter. Instead, much like in 2019, this team has found a way to pull it together and get to this point, and that’s pretty remarkable.
I know their sights are set on Omaha, but regardless of what happens tonight, we should be proud of this team and what they’ve done.
With that being said, it’d be really cool and not at all bad if they made it to Omaha. Please, let’s do that.
The Rebels and Wildcats have their winner-take-all game tonight at 8pm CST on ESPN2.