Strong outing from Nikhazy helps Ole Miss even series
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - In what was yet another pitchers’ duel for the majority of play, No. 2 Ole Miss (21-5, 7-1) finally broke through offensively with six runs in the final two innings, feasting off the No. 15 Florida (17-9, 4-4) bullpen and tying their weekend series with an 8-2 victory Friday evening.
Doug Nikhazy put on another show on the mound, striking out a season-high 11 batters, also setting a career-high in SEC play. Nikhazy went six innings, allowing just two hits and one unearned run on 100 pitches. Drew McDaniel and Taylor Broadway made up the bullpen effort with the latter getting his seventh save of the season after striking out five of the six batters he faced in a perfect two frames.
In total, eight different Rebels recorded a hit. Jacob Gonzalez was the main catalyst for the late game heroics offensively. Gonzalez finished 3-for-5 at the plate with four RBI, two of which came off a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning that opened the floodgates in the later innings.
Ole Miss drew first blood after a two-out double by Kevin Graham paid off. Tim Elko’s RBI single to center field allowed Graham to score and give the Rebels an early 1-0 lead. Florida would draw a leadoff walk, but nothing else at the end of the first inning.
The Rebels would double for the second consecutive inning courtesy of Hayden Leatherwood while Calvin Harris would get him to score on the following at-bat to take a two run lead. An error led to Florida getting that run back in the bottom half inning. After drawing a leadoff walk, Jordan Butler found himself 90 feet from home plate after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and then scored unearned on a Kris Armstrong single. Ole Miss had a 2-1 lead after two complete.
Both teams failed to take advantage of single in the third and failed to record a hit until Jud Fabian broke the drought with a solo home run to left field off McDaniel, tying the game 2-2. The Rebels answered. After a TJ McCants single to start the top of the eighth inning, Gonzalez hit a deep shot to right field to retake the lead. Broadway came out of the Rebel bullpen to breeze through the remainder of the eighth.
Ole Miss made sure to put the game out of reach in the final inning. After a Bench single and a pair of walks issued to McCants and Cade Sammons, the Rebels loaded the bases with only one out. Peyton Chatagnier gave Ole Miss a four-run lead with his two-RBI single while Gonzalez again knocked in two runs with a single. Broadway closed the door with three straight strikeouts and evened the weekend series.
The Rebels will look to take the series over the Gators on Saturday, April 3. First pitch is set for noon CT
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