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Ole Miss defeats Auburn, 7-4, in opening game of SEC Tourney

Ole Miss defeats Auburn, 7-4, in opening game of SEC Tourney

HOOVER, Alabama – Much like the ever popular #Pac12AfterDark, where things get a little crazy, #HooverAfterDark was on par with its west coast pigskin cousin.  

The late game at the SEC Baseball Tournament Tuesday featured Ole Miss vs. Auburn. Both teams threw their ace, with the Rebels opting for the services of 8-2 Doug Nikhazy for the second “Doug Day” in six days.  

If the short rest bothered Doug, you certainly wouldn’t know it from his performance on the mound. For most of his outing, Nikhazy was dominant. After giving up a lead-off home run, he retired 14 straight Auburn hitters.  

In the postgame press conference, Doug praised his offense.

It was one of those games where it was won on both sides of the ball. Our offense set the tone early….our offense just continues to prevail and be the best in the SEC.

Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy

While the home run from the first batter faced might have rattled some, it served to motivate Doug. “It just locks you in even more, makes you more ready to go,” he explained.

Nikhazy was asked about the short rest, coming after he pitched last Thursday in a win over Georgia. “I really wanted the ball today and I was happy Coach B (Bianco) gave me the opportunity for that.”  

Mid-game in an interview on the SEC Network, head coach Bianco described Nikhazy as the “best competitor we’ve ever had.” After the game, the Rebels’ coach of 21-years continued lauding his ace.

He’s one of the best, not only in our conference but in the country. It’s good feeling when you run him out there. Makes it a lot easier Day One when you have somebody like Doug running out there….It was vintage Doug.

Head coach Mike Bianco on Doug Nikhazy

Nikhazy, a first-team All-SEC selection, threw six complete innings, allowing two runs on just four hits, struck out seven and improved to 9-2, inching ever closer to the exclusive 10 win – 100 strike out club. 

Broadway Ties School Record for Saves

Taylor Broadway recorded the last seven outs of the game and earned his conference-leading thirteenth save of the year.  

“He’s a fantastic pitcher,” Nikhazy said of Broadway.

He’s one of those stoppers in the SEC who just doesn’t get talked about enough. As the season continues, you’re going to continue to see him have these lock down innings. And it seems whenever he comes in the game the Rebels are going to win.”  

Doug Nikhazy on Taylor Broadway

The save ties Broadway with legendary pitcher Stephen Head for the single-season save record at Ole Miss

At the plate

Once again, the Rebels were friends of the home run. In this game, they benefitted from both the over-the-fence and inside the park varieties. 

Ole Miss’ scoring began when T.J. McCants crossed home plate after leading off for the Rebels with a double. McCants, who recently was named to the SEC All-Freshman team, also notched an RBI in the third inning when he walked and plated captain Tim Elko.  

Jacob Gonzalez, also an All-Freshman team honoree, went 4-for-5 on the night with three singles and a double.

The fourth inning saw one of the most entertaining plays in baseball, as Justin Bench hit a rarely-seen, inside-the-park home run. Or was it an over the fence home run?  You be the judge.

In the books, Bench’s hit is an inside-the-park job, only the second in SEC Tournament history.  

Also in the fourth, Peyton Chatagnier drove in Jacob Gonzalez and Kevin Graham, who recorded back-to-back hits after the home run.  McCants then took a bases-loaded walk to score Elko.

Auburn narrowed the lead with a run in the fifth, and again after Nikhazy gave up two runs in the seventh, but 5-4 is as close as the Tigers would get the remainder of the game. 

Ole Miss got the two runs back in the bottom of the seventh off a two-run blast from Hayden Dunhurst into the Rebel bullpen. 

Next Up

Ole Miss now faces No. 4 seed Vanderbilt in a game set for 8:00 p.m. tonight. The Rebels took the series from the Commodores during the regular season in Oxford, May 14 – 16.  

Ole Miss has yet to announce a starting pitcher for the Wednesday late-night game, while Vandy will send freshman Christian Little to the mound. Little enters his first SEC tournament with 3-1 record on 32.1 innings pitched and an elevated 5.57 ERA. His batting average against doesn’t really compare to the ERA number at .248.  He has 37 strike outs and has allowed 15 walks.

Hotty Toddy!

(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Baseball)

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 24 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.

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