GREENVILLE, N.C. - Tyler Keenan was feeling it back in his home state. The junior out of Clayton, North Carolina, gave No. 23 Ole Miss the early spark it needed, and Doug Nikhazy and the Rebel pitching staff did the rest en route to a 6-2 win over High Point to open the Keith LeClair Classic.
Nikhazy picked up his second win of the season and improves to 2-1 on the year. Over the past two weeks, the Rebel ace has only allowed a pair of runs on four hits on his way to back-to-back victories. In relief of Nikhazy 5.2 IP were two of Ole Miss' most effective relievers, Austin Miller and Taylor Broadway who each picked up their fifth appearance of the season and held High Point scoreless over the game's final innings.
The Rebels were actually outhit by High Point by a mark of eight to six, but Ole Miss was able to string together timely and efficient innings matched with dominant pitching, and ultimately cruised to a Friday victory to open up the Keith LeClair Classic on a high point.
Anthony Servideo got Ole Miss started in the top of the first with a leadoff walk, and Keenan made the Panthers pay, crushing a ball over the fence in right-center field to give the Rebels an early 2-0 lead.
The reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week then continued his hot streak with a 1-2-3 first inning, using a pair of looking strikeouts and a lineout to Servideo to roll through the opening frame. The sophomore out of Windermere, Florida, went on to retire the entire Panther lineup in order his first time through.
Meanwhile, the Rebels managed a few baserunners via three hit-by-pitches and a walk in the second through fourth innings, but High Point starter Harrison Smith fought his way through the frames unscathed.
Ole Miss brought one across in the fifth, starting with a leadoff base hit by Servideo. Chatagnier then walked and Keenan sent Servideo to third on a fielder's choice. Cael Baker made Servideo's hit count with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, Rebels.
High Point battled back in the bottom of the fifth, after a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Adam Stuart then singled to left field to bring home two runs, making it a 3-2 ballgame. The Rebels escaped the jam on an unassisted double play by Chatagnier.
The Rebels swung right back in the sixth after Kevin Graham and Justin Bench strung together consecutive base hits to start off the inning. Cade Sammons brought one run home on a single to right before Servideo walked to load the bases. Chatagnier then made it a three-run lead once again with a sacrifice fly to left.
Nikhazy's day ended after 5.2 innings of work when he yielded a two-out single to left. Austin Miller relieved the Rebel starter and worked out of the jam. Servideo scooped up a ground ball deep in the hole to his right. His throw was off target, but Baker corralled the overthrow and threw to Hayden Dunhurst at home to peg High Point's Joe Johnson and end the inning.
The Panthers threatened again in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff base hit and a hit by pitch. However, Miller dug deep and escaped the jam, sandwiching two strikeouts around a flyout to keep it a 5-2 Rebel lead.
A one-out single in the eighth chased Miller after 1.2 scoreless innings, but Taylor Broadway was able to close it out with four quick outs.
Ole Miss returns to action Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT. The Rebels will take on Keith LeClair Classic host No. 17 ECU. A live stream will be available free to fans at ECUPirates.com
- Ole Miss improves to 8-1 on the season and 1-0 on the road.
- Ole Miss has now won eight straight games since losing its season opener to No. 1 Louisville.
- Doug Nikhazy picked up his second win of the season, improving his record to 2-1.
- Nikhazy has also gone at least 5.0 IP in each of his three outing this season.
- Tyler Keenan hit his second home run of the season to become the sixth Rebel with multiple homers this year.
- Carrying over from last week, Nikhazy extended his streak to 9.1 innings without allowing a hit before giving up a one-out single in the fourth.
- Nikhazy also extended his streak to 10.1 innings without allowing a run before giving up a pair in the fifth inning.
- Taylor Broadway and Austin Miller each made their team-high fifth appearance this season.