After dropping game one against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Fayetteville Super Regional, the Ole Miss Rebels came back in game two of the series to keep hopes of going to Omaha alive.
The Razorbacks’ momentum i had completely dissipated, allowing the Rebels to clench a 13-5 victory to force a third game.
Doug Nikhazy started on the bump for the Rebels and pitched 5.0 innings, striking out 8 Razorbacks along the way. Nikhazy broke the record for most strikeouts by a freshman in program history set by Jeff Calhoun in 1977 and Drew Pomeranz in 2008.
Offensively, the two teams wasted no time, both scoring multiple runs in the first frame. Dominic Fletcher made the Rebels pay for an infield miscue with a two-out, two-run home run to right field. The Rebels were quick to answer with three runs of their own.
After a single off the bat of Thomas Dillard, Grae Kessinger was hit by a pitch and Cole Zabowski hit his 12th home run of the season to put the Rebels ahead. Cooper Johnson led off the second inning with a solo shot to right to put the Rebels up by two and chase Razorback starter Connor Noland off the mound to bring RHP Kole Ramage out of the bullpen.
Ramage struggled with command right off the bat, allowing Jacob Adams to reach on a fielder’s choice and issuing walks to Dillard and Kessinger to load the bases. Tyler Keenan capitalized on the opportunity and hit a bases-clearing triple to make the score 7-2 with only one out. Ryan Olenek tacked on another run with an RBI single on a fielders choice to put the Rebels up by 7 going into the third.
The Razorbacks threatened in the third, loading the bases with just one out, but Nikhazy was able to secure the remaining two outs to escape the jam and give the Rebel bats a chance to leave the Razorbacks in the dust.
However, in the fourth, Nikhazy struggled with his command on the mound. After three-straight, two-out RBI doubles, the Razorbacks cut the lead to 3. Houston Roth came out of the bullpen to start out the sixth and was able to successfully keep the Razorback bats at bay.
The Rebel bats came back to life in the bottom of the sixth, scoring 3 runs. Keenan took a curveball deep over the bullpen in right field—his 15th home run of the season and the third Rebel home run of the game. Zabowski and Kevin Graham followed with a pair of singles, and the Razorback defense mishandled Johnson’s ground ball to load the bases with two outs.
Anthony Servideo delivered, beating out a liner to the first baseman to plate two Rebels and make the score 11-5. Dillard led off the seventh with a walk, his 60th of the season, breaking the single-season walk record. Kessinger made the Razorbacks pay by taking a fastball deep to left for the 4th Rebel
homer of the day and his second of the Super Regional, putting the Rebels up by 8.
In the eighth and ninth innings, the Razorbacks were unable to comeback at the plate with Roth cruising through three scoreless innings on the mound, easily clenching the final nine outs needed to secure the victory and force a third game.
The Rebels will look to clench another victory during the final game of the Fayetteville Super Regional and advance to the College World Series. Game three will start on Monday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.