Ole Miss decided to save Doug Nikhazy for Saturday’s game. This vote of confidence in Derek Diamond’s chances on Friday against SEMO paid off. With a 6-3 victory tonight, Ole Miss will have their ace lined up to face the Seminoles with a trip to the Regional Finals on the line.
Mike Bianco has taken plenty of criticism over the years for the way he manages the bullpen and rotation. Today, he orchestrated it masterfully. Betting on Diamond to be lights out paid off. He followed Diamond’s 4.1 innings with freshman stud, Jack Dougherty. Dougherty did allow an inherited runner to score, but it was set up by an E3 and was not charged back to Diamond. Diamond went 4.1 with just 2 hits and 1 unearned run.
Dougherty was solid in his long relief role. 3 innings of work allowing 2 runs (only 1 of which was earned) was enough to bridge the gap all the way to Taylor Broadway. Dougherty picked up the win while Broadway picked up save number 14 (a new single season Ole Miss record). Broadway was doing Broadway things out there today. Extended saves are not new to him. He faced the minimum, recorded 3 Ks, and did not allow a baserunner in his 1.2 innings of lockdown pitching.
The RedHawks trotted out their ace, a man who elevates the team to the elite level of mid-majors every time he is on the hill, Dylan Dodd. He pitched 6 innings and allowed 6 runs against a stacked Ole Miss lineup. He made easy and efficient work out of the first 2 frames, but after Cael Baker and JRP singled from the 8 and 9 spots in the 3rd inning, Dodd ran into serious trouble.
Dodd issued his first walk since May 7th to Jacob Gonzalez and set the stage for Tim Elko (as if Elko needs any help being the hero). The Ole Miss captain dug in with 1 out and bags full of Rebs. A quick meeting at the mound to game plan for the 1-legged wonder’s at bat did not help. Elko cut on the first pitch he saw and sent it sailing into the student section for a Grand Slam. Tim Elko is just as much a legend with 1 ACL as he was with 2 ACLs.
TJ McCants and Peyton Chatagnier added insurance runs in the 5th and 6th innings respectively, but the damage done by Elko’s oppo taco was enough to win the game. Ole Miss racked up 11 hits in total as everybody except Justin Bench recorded at least 1 knock.
Ole Miss left 8 runners on base throughout the game, but, thanks to Elko’s big bat, they were 1-1 with the bases loaded. Ole Miss went 4-18 with runners on base which is fine because their .324 average on the day meant they put pressure on the SEMO pitching in every inning except for 1.
Ole Miss moved to the winners’ bracket where they will meet Florida State tomorrow at 5 PM Central. Broadway was efficient enough today that he is probably available in a close game, but with Doug getting the start tomorrow, Ole Miss has a chance to create separation from Florida State and their shaky 2 or 3 pitcher. Florida State does not get enough consistency from their weekend guys and had to burn their true ace in a win over Southern Miss.
Dougherty is likely shut down until a potential Game 7 on Monday after his long outing. McDaniel and Adcock are probably being saved for Sunday/Monday as well. If Doug needs to be relieved, Johnson will probably be the go-to guy tomorrow as well as Mallitz. Both of them have shown feast or famine stuff as of late, but the entire staff looked solid last week. Hopefully, Ole Miss pitching can continue to perform at a high level and keep this postseason run alive.