Nikhazy leads Rebels to 1-0 win over A&M in SEC Tournament
HOOVER, Ala. – With a no-hitter after eight innings, A&M pitcher John Doxakis was on track to be the story of the game vs. Ole Miss Thursday at the SEC Tournament. Instead, however, Rebels’ pitcher Doug Nikhazy and hitters Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski changed the narrative as Ole Miss spoiled the Aggies’ no-hit bid, defeating A&M, 1-0, to move on in the tourney.
(Click here for box score.)
The lefty Doxakis stymied the Rebels for the entirety of his eight innings on the mound, but when the Aggies didn’t send him to the mound for the ninth, they could only watch as Ole Miss capitalized on the move.
Dillard led off the top of the ninth and ended the Aggies’ no-hitter with a single over the shortstop. Following a foul out to the catcher and a ground out to third, Zabowski calmly stepped up and plated Dillard from second on an RBI double in the only run of the game for either team.
#RebsBSB on top heading to the bottom of the ninth.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 23, 2019
“He had a good fastball, and a good breaking ball,” Zabowski explained.
“After watching (Tyler) Keenan’s at-bat, he threw him a lot of breaking balls, so I was just trying to see him up in the zone and hit the ball where it was pitched.”
Cole Zabowski on his game-winning RBI double
After Nikhazy pitched a spectacular eight innings, throwing 107 pitches, closer Parker Caracci took the mound and retired the Aggies in the ninth for the win, earning his ninth save of the season.
Though Bianco has seen Caracci struggle in his last few outings, there was never a doubt the coach would have the confidence to turn to his redshirt junior.
“I’ve said it for a couple weeks now, I don’t believe we can win in the postseason without Parker Caracci. I just don’t believe we can do that,” Bianco said.
“He’s won so many big games, and he’s been in that moment a lot more than most kids in this conference.”
Coach Bianco on turning to closer Parker Caracci
Nikhazy, recently named to the All-SEC Freshman Team, earned the win and moves his record to 7-3 in what was a career-long 8.0 IP performance against A&M. He allowed just three hits in those eight innings, en route to shutting out the Aggies. Despite his outstanding game, Nikhazy didn’t think it was his best outing.
“I don’t think I ever found it today on the mound, like having complete control of all of my pitches,” he said. “I was able to work through it and my defense did a great job behind me, and didn’t make an error,” he noted.
“As far as (Texas A&M pitcher, John) Doxakis on the other side, just a really good performance from him. He’s a tremendous pitcher. I just tried to keep my mind off of it, and know that our offense would pull through eventually.”
Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy
Bianco praised the tenacity of his freshman pitcher.
“I think he has so much confidence when he has the ball. He’s one of those guys that just doesn’t have bad innings. What I mean by that is that there are guys who lose it quickly and all of sudden you say, ‘it was a good game up until that point.’ That doesn’t happen to Doug very often. He’s a fighter and he’s a competitor.”
Coach Bianco on Nikhazy
At least you tried.@dougnikhazy tossin' that FILTH!
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 23, 2019
- The Rebels now lead the all-time series 16-13 against Texas A&M and 2-1 all-time against the Aggies in the tourney.
- The win marks the first time a lower-seeded team has won in the 2019 SEC Tournament.
- Ole Miss also improved to 4-0 this season against Texas A&M. The Rebels swept the Aggies April 25-27 in Oxford.
- Doug Nikhazy (7-3) now leads the team in wins and also set a career-high for innings pitched (8.0).
- Redshirt junior Parker Caracci picked up his team-leading ninth save of the season and 19th of his career.
- Junior catcher Cooper Johnson caught one runner stealing to improve his season total to 18, which moves him into a tie for second among SEC players.
- Junior Thomas Dillard’s single in the top of the ninth broke up the no-hit bid for John Doxakis.
- Junior Cole Zabowski tallied his 67th hit of the season and 43rd RBI to put Ole Miss ahead 1-0 in the ninth.
- The win was the Rebels’ fourth shutout of the season and first since March 23, 2019, at Missouri.
- Ole Miss was flawless from the field, improving to 18-8 when the team commits no errors.
Next up in SEC Tourney action: Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
The Rebels advance to play Friday at 3 p.m. CT in the first game on Friday in Hoover. Ole Miss will play a rematch against Arkansas as the Hogs lost, 3-1, to Georgia Thursday afternoon.
Game highlights of Ole Miss’ 1-0 win over A&M
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Prior to founding The Rebel Walk, Evelyn was a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas. She created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.