Top seed Ole Miss used the power in the right arm of freshman Doug Nikhazy and the power in its lineup to muscle thru Clemson Saturday night 6-1 in the winner’s bracket game of the Oxford Regional. The Tigers will face Jacksonville State Sunday afternoon at 3:00 in an elimination game. The winner will face Ole Miss Sunday night and would have to beat the Rebels twice to advance to the Super Regional.
Nikhazy was nothing short of sensational. He pitched into the 9th inning allowing just four hits and the one run while striking out nine. He threw 116 pitches, 80 for strikes. He set down the Tigers in order in five of his eight innings.
Nikhazy took a shutout into the seventh when Grayson Byrd doubled, Kyle Wilkie singled and Bryar Hawkins delivered the run by grounding into a double play. Nikhazy was lifted after a leadoff walk in the 9th to a rousing ovation from the more than 10,000 Ole Miss fans in attendance. Parker Caracci got the last three outs.
Clemson ace Mat Clark, who falls to 9-3 with the loss, was roughed up in the second inning by back-to-back solo homers from Cole Zabowski and Cooper Johnson. The Rebels added a third run in the inning as they sent eight men to the plate.
Clark was relieved in the 4th with one out after giving up a pair of singles. Sam Weatherly came on and after striking out the first batter he faced, he uncorked two wild pitches to allow the fourth run. The Rebels tacked on another run in the 6th and hit their third solo homer of the game in the 8th for the final 6-1 spread.
Clemson coach Monte Lee said he and his staff were undecided immediately after the game about Sunday’s starter against Jacksonville State. He said Brooks Crawford and Jackson Lindley are the top candidates. The Gamecocks stayed alive by eliminating Illinois 7-5 in the first game Saturday.
Clemson press conference (Monte Lee, Grayson Byrd, Micheal Green)