By Adam Brown
Junior left-hander Doug Nikhazy was masterful on the mound in the win over the Florida State Seminoles 4-3 on Saturday night. The Rebels punched their ticket into the championship game of the Oxford Regional.
“Incredible college baseball game,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “Doug tied a school record tonight on the mound. All about pitching on both sides.”
The southpaw set records against Florida State with 16 total strikeouts. Nikhazy tied a single-game record with Drew Pomeranz (09), Eral Siedel (62) and Jamey Price (95).
Ole Miss (43-19) jumped out early on the Florida State hurler with two runs in the first as Jacob Gonzalez delivered a one-out base knock followed by a walk to Tim Elko. The two moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch then came in on an error to right off the bat of Kevin Graham.
Nikhazy kept the Seminoles guessing at the plate through the first four frames. Florida State was only able to get a runner to third base in the second inning.
FSU scored three runs in the fifth from two home runs off the bats of Isaiah Perry and Logan Lacey.
“It is in moments like that when you are at this part of the season on how many chances you’re going to get to put the uniform back on,” Nikhazy said. “In those moments like that you kinda flip a switch and everything starts changing.”
Nikhazy didn’t let that phase him as he retired the next eight sluggers with seven strikeouts.
“That’s Doug. When the game is on the line he can take it to another gear,” Bianco said.
In the seventh, Ole Miss answered back as Cael Baker and Hayden Leatherwood got on base. The Rebels turned the lineup over as Tim Elko got aboard on an error by short that plated Baker and Leatherwood.
Nikhazy (10-2) worked 7.0 innings and surrendered three runs on four hits with 16 strikeouts and a walk.
Bianco called on Taylor Broadway to come in and close out the win. Broadway picked up his 15th save of the season.
In the eighth, Gonzalez made a huge play in the field that kept the Seminoles off the board.
“That was a huge play,” Bianco said. “Jacob had to relatively routine ground balls to start the inning. Martin smoked a ball off of Broadway’s calf, and it was going to be a base hit. Gonzo comes across and bare-hands it, making a huge play. In games like this, sometimes those are game winners.”
Ole Miss will take on the winner of Florida State and Southern Mississippi Sunday at 5 p.m.