It was smooth sailing for Doug Nikhazy and the Ole Miss baseball team on Friday night as the Rebels claimed a 13-0 win over the Xavier Musketeers to open their weekend series in Oxford.
Nikhazy and the Rebel pitching staff put forth a hitless effort, marking Ole Miss’ first no-hitter since March 20, 2019, a 25-0 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the first nine-inning no-hitter since 1966 against Mississippi State. After his start on the mound, Nikhazy was relieved by freshmen Drew McDaniel and Jackson Kimbrell, both of whom were seeing the first collegiate action of their careers.
“It was a great feeling,” Nikhazy said. “It’s awesome to see Drew and Kimbrell get in there, have so much success and it’s good for us because coach [Bianco] was talking a lot about how we’ve had gritty wins, but let’s come out here and dominate both sides of the baseball.”
The Rebels did dominate both sides of the baseball, outhitting Xavier 9-0 and cashing in on run-scoring opportunities throughout the game. A large portion of the Rebel offense came from Hayden Dunhurst who was hitless entering the game. Dunhurst not only got the first hit of his Rebel career, a single in the second inning, but accounted for five RBIs, three of which came on a home run in the third inning.
“I always knew it was going to come soon,” Dunhurst said of his breakout performance. “I saw the ball really well last weekend, but my timing was a little bit off, especially in the atmosphere and having a little bit of butterflies.”
Dunhurst also started at catcher for the Rebels on Friday and had the opportunity to see Nikhazy pitch from behind the plate.
“Catching Doug, it was crazy,” Dunhurst said. “Pinpoint accuracy throwing the curveball and slider wherever he wanted. Just things like that put him in a great position to win.”
Although Nikhazy cruised through six innings, striking out nine batters and only walking two, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco didn’t give thought to keeping him in the game once his pitch count got close to triple digits.
“The hope was that he wouldn’t get to 100 pitches tonight this early in a game that you certainly want to win,” Bianco said, “There’s a lot of bigger games down the road.”
Bianco had high praise for the young arms he used to relieve Nikhazy following the sixth inning. Although it was the first collegiate action for both McDaniel and Kimbrell, they combined for two strikeouts and one walk in their three innings of work.
“It’s tough your first time,” Bianco said. “[Their performances were] pretty impressive.”
Ole Miss and Xavier will face off in game two of the three-game set Saturday at Swayze Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.