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Rebels Claim Spot in Championship Game After Clemson Defeat

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Cole Zabowski makes the turn at third after a home run. Photo by Joshua McCoy / Ole Miss Athletics

The No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels took down the No. 3 Clemson Tigers 6-1 to place themselves in the championship game of the Oxford Regional.

Ole Miss (39-25) found success in every phase of the game. The offense contained its firepower with three home runs against the Tigers. The Rebels had home runs by Cole Zabowski, Cooper Johnson and Kevin Graham throughout the evening.

Freshman southpaw Doug Nikhazy was dominant on the mound for the Rebels in the first inning.

“Nikhazy was outstanding on the mound,” Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee said. “Their offensive was very good tonight.”

“Doug was fantastic for eight-plus innings against a really good offense,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

The Rebels’ high octane firepower returned in the second inning as the long ball continued to sail out of Swayze in the second on back-to-back home runs off the bats of Zabowski and Johnson. Ole Miss’ third run crossed in the form of Tyler Keenan who scored on a fielder’s choice by Knox Loposer.

In the fourth, Tim Elko singled and got to third on a base knock and a wild pitch. He then came home to score on a wild pitch.

Clemson’s ace southpaw Mat Clark worked 3.1 innings allowing four runs on five hits. Clark struck out one batter and surrendered four walks in his outing.

The Tigers made the call to the bullpen in the fourth inning and called on the arm of Sam Weatherly. He logged 1.2 on the mound and gave a lone run while striking out four and walking five.

A leadoff walk to Thomas Dillard in the sixth brought Travis Marr to the hill. Ryan Olenek then sent a hard shot ground ball past the second baseman. Grae Kessinger delivered a sac fly that scored Dillard.

Clemson scratched a run across in the seventh after a leadoff double by Grayson Byrd and scored on a double play groundout by Bryar Hawkins.

Nikhazy worked eight-plus innings only allowing a run on four hits. He retired nine batters by strikeout and got three walks to pick up the win.

In the eighth, Kevin Graham answered the Tigers’ run with a blast of his own to center field.

The Rebels closer Parker Caracci came in after a walk in the bottom of the ninth and closed the door on Clemson’s chances to come back in the game.

Clemson will drop into an elimination game against Jacksonville State at 2 p.m. Jacksonville State knocked out Illinois 7-5 earlier on Saturday.

Ole Miss will take the diamond against the winner of Clemson and Jacksonville State at 8 p.m. in the championship game. The Rebels will have to be beaten twice.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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