By Adam Brown
A dominant outing for junior pitcher Doug Nikhazy on the mound propelled No. 13 Ole Miss to a 2-0 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Rebels southpaw Nikhazy set a new career-high in strikeouts with 13 in the pitcher’s duel against the Bulldogs staff.
“(Doug) was outstanding,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “In game one, you get in these types of duels.”
Georgia had to go to the bullpen in the second inning as Justin Bench sent a line drive back up the box that hit off of the leg of Georgia pitcher Luke Wagner.
“After (Wagner) has to come out, (Georgia’s pitchers) did a good job,” Bianco said.
Ole Miss (37-16, 17-11 SEC) got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning by taking advantage of a leadoff base knock off the bat of TJ McCants. Later in the frame with two outs, Kevin Graham extended his on-base streak to 46 games with a walk. Bench followed with an RBI single to left field that allowed McCants to cross the plate.
Nikhazy rolled through the first three innings as he retired a total of 11 sluggers by strikeout with four of them coming in the first inning. Georgia only recorded three hits through the first nine outs.
“It seemed like after the first inning I knew where the fastball was going,” Nikhazy said. “Everything was working for me and just everything paired up well.”
Georgia batters then started working the count in the middle innings as Nikhazy allowed three free passes on two walks and a hit by pitch.
In the sixth, Ole Miss added a run as McCants scored the second run on a sacrifice fly by Graham. McCants led the Rebels at the dish going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and on-base three times.
After six innings on the bump, Nikhazy had struck out a total of 11 Bulldog sluggers. Nikhazy (8-2) worked seven complete innings and surrendered no runs on four hits to pick up the win.
Bianco brought Rebels closer Taylor Broadway into pitch and kept the Georgia batters at bay for the final six outs. Broadway allowed a hit and a walk while he struck out two Bulldogs to pick up his 11th save of the season.
Ole Miss will look to take the series on Friday night in game two with Georgia. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. on SEC Network+.