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What The Rebels Said: Bianco, Nikhazy, and Zabowski after 13-5 win over Arkansas

What The Rebels Said: Bianco, Nikhazy, and Zabowski after 13-5 win over Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Following the Rebels’ 13-5 pounding of Arkansas in Game 2 of the Fayetteville Super Regional, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, pitcher Doug Nikhazy, and first baseman Cole Zabowski met with the media to talk about the win.

Ole Miss meets the Razorbacks for the decisive Game 3 Monday at 3:00 p.m. (CT). The winner goes to Omaha for the College World Series.

Head Coach Mike Bianco

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco before the Rebels’ Game 2 win over Arkansas. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Mike Bianco: “Just proud of my guys and the way that we bounced back from yesterday’s game where it was so one sided. We needed a huge performance on the mound and Doug [Nikhazy] gave us that. I think he would admit maybe not his sharpest day with all his pitches, but it was a really gutsy performance. Those that have watched him pitch all year have seen, that’s why he is so good, there are days that he is maybe not as sharp stuff-wise, always able to make a pitch and get off the field and he did that today. Today, really the story was the offense, starting with [Cole] Zabowski, huge home run after they got two in the first. I thought that was big and then we were able to extend it with homers, a big homer by Cooper [Johnson] and [Tyler] Keenan and of course Grae [Kessinger] at the end.” 

On Houston Roth’s performance …

Mike Bianco: “Yeah I thought he was really sharp, he has pitched really well down the stretch for us, but that is as good as I have seen him against a really good offense. Just a good mix with the fastball, breaking ball and a handful of changeups and the fastball on both sides, he was really sharp today.” 

On the offense’s performance… 

Mike Bianco: “Yeah we scored eight early and then they put some zeroes up. I don’t think we had a bad approach; I don’t think we had bad at-bats. Let’s face it they are really good, and you can’t score every inning, but glad that we stayed locked in, because you need to. I think Doug [Nikhazy] said it, this is it, you win you keep moving on, you lose you go home. They know that, they don’t need to be reminded of that. I was proud of the way we continued to swing throughout the game.” 

On why the team is so good in elimination games… 

Mike Bianco: “I will say, and I think it is a huge factor, they don’t look nervous. If you were in the dugout, they look like a team that has won four or five in a row. Somewhere along the line, somewhere in the SEC Tournament we kind of found that and maybe in the most pressure-packed parts of the game they play loose, and they play with a lot of confidence.” 

Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy

Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy in the Rebels' 13-5 win over Arkansas.

Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy in the Rebels’ 13-5 win over Arkansas. (Photo: Josh McCoy)

On chirping with the Arkansas fans…

Doug Nikhazy: “Yeah, it was real playful, there were a couple of kids down the line. I always make my rounds during BP, I’ll go walk over to guys on the bucket. There were some kids just playing around and they were giving me a hard time. It was getting to the end of BP and I just said, “Time to go beat some Hogs.” 

On his mindset when he sees the wind blowing… 

Doug Nikhazy: “Just keep the ball low and focus on getting ahead in the count because you can make mistakes & hit some fly balls. Mostly just working low in the zone.” 

 On playing with their backs against the wall… 

Doug Nikhazy: “Kind of like the mantra of this whole postseason, we don’t really know what tomorrow is going bring and we have to make sure we do our jobs today & not look past today. It’s what kept us on our toes and I think we were never really comfortable, not to say we weren’t comfortable. We weren’t ever content.” 

Ole Miss infielder Cole Zabowski

Cole Zabowski hit a three run homer in the first inning to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead over Arkansas.

Cole Zabowski hit a three run homer in the first inning to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead over Arkansas. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

On his home run and performance…

Cole Zabowski: “The pitch was a changeup and the pitch before it was also a changeup. With a guy like [Connor] Noland, he likes to throw the changeup and likes to throw the breaker. I was trying to see him up in the zone and get a good pitch to hit.” 

On your mindset when you see the wind blowing out… 

Cole Zabowski: “For me, it’s the same just trying to hit the ball hard. The good part about the wind blowing out is that you can miss and it will still go.” 

On playing with their backs against the wall… 

Cole Zabowski: “I think it comes from the challenges we faced throughout the season. We can handle the situation because we have been through it and we have the experience.” 

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

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--and continued as she watched Katie receive three degrees from Ole Miss, culminating with her Pharm D. in 2012. Evelyn, a member of the FWAA, USBWA and the NCBWA, has covered Rebel sports for numerous outlets. In addition to working for The Rebel Walk, Evelyn is a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas.

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