Win Streak Snaps as Rebels are Humbled at Home

The Ole Miss Rebels came into their Friday nights match-up against UCF riding a 20 game win streak. The team appeared to be catching fire after routing Texas on Monday and slamming Arkansas State in a midweek matchup Wednesday evening, but the bats went ice cold in Game 1 against Central Florida.
Friday night starter Doug Nikhazy pitched a solid 6.1 innings and struck out 10 batters. He made the mistake of leaving two 7th inning pitches a little too high in the zone and they were both launched into the visiting team’s bullpen beyond the Leftfield wall. Despite an anemic Rebel approach at the plate, those 2 solo homeruns were not the different in the game. A costly throwing error in the top of the 9th is what cost the Rebels’ their historic run.
With a runner on 2nd, a poorly placed bunt dribbled its way to Taylor Broadway in front of the mound. With plenty of time to catch the lead runner advancing to 3rd he turned and fired. The throw was airmailed and in came the insurance run that the Knights needed to hold off the bottom of the 9th surge from the Rebs. Hayden Dunhurst blasted an oppo taco while down to the final strike of the game and Cael Baker managed to get the tying run on base after being hit by a pitch. The following at bat was scored a 4-6 fielder’s choice and Central Florida began to celebrate.
The Rebels have 2 more chances tomorrow to get their revenge on the Knights, after losing for the first time since Valentine’s Day 2020. The gaping hole in the lineup left by Peyton Chatagnier was apparent in this game as nobody seemed to want to come up clutch with runners on. Chatty’s hamstring injury against Texas will likely keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
There is plenty of season left and plenty of chances to kick off another long win streak as long as Ole Miss can put this one in the rearview. Omaha is still very much in range and next weeks polls might still have them sitting in the top 3. It is hard to see a young gritty team taste defeat after the run they went on, but it had to happen eventually. I’m sure everybody on that team would prefer they take a few lumps in February rather than in June.

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