A slider rolled off of Jack Leftwich’s fingertips with intentions to be buried near Jacob Gonzalez’s back foot. It never found its intended home and was instead relocated by Jacob Gonzalez in a hurry just to the right of the scoreboard in right field, a two-run, backbreaking home run that gave Ole Miss (21-5, 7-1) a 4-2 lead. The Rebels took that momentum and scored four more runs in the eighth to make the final score 8-2.
“We just have to be more aggressive early in the count. That’s one way to cut down on strikeouts. Obviously, Jud hits the home run to tie it up at two, and then we immediately go strikeout, strikeout,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “We just need to have a couple better at-bats there. We had the momentum there but we just didn’t keep it. You are not going to win many games with 18 strikeouts and just three hits.”
When you strikeout 18 times in a game that only gives nine outs to play with and certainly isn’t going to be a formula to win many games.
Christian Scott earned the start, his first SEC start since his freshman season. The third-year sophomore was replacing Jack Leftwich in the rotation but got a little unlucky in the first two frames. A bloop down the right field line found a home between two defenders and resulted in a double. A single gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, another ball hit down the right field line wasn’t played well by Kendrick Calilao and resulted in another double, with neither ball being hit particularly well. Another single, this time from Calvin Harris made it 2-0 Rebels.
Florida (17-9, 4-4 SEC) took advantage of a couple of Ole Miss miscues in the second. Jordan Butler walked and scurried all the way to third on an errant pick off attempt. Kris Armstrong drove him in with a single up the middle to make the score 2-1.
Ole Miss starter, and preseason All-American, Doug Nikhazy just baffled the Florida has all night. The lefty from Windermere, Florida notched a season-high and SEC high 11 batters on Friday night. Nikhazy leaned heavily on his curveball and changeup, slowing everything down.
“After the first inning yesterday, they really slowed the ball down a lot with [starting pitcher Gunnar] Hoglund,” O’Sullivan said. “Then tonight, the first pitch of the game was a slider, which you don’t see very often. They threw their offspeed pitch a lot and we obviously did not have a great game offensively.”
Jud Fabian, mired in an 0-19 slump with 15 strikeouts tied the game with a blast, into the wind, that cleared the wall in left field.
“We need him throughout the rest of the season,” Scott said of Fabian after the game. “He’s a big part of our offense. He’s a big part of our team and when he gets going we get going. The faster that he can get going and get on a little tear, we’ll turn this around.”
Leftwich replaced Scott and struggled, giving up six earned runs over 3.1 innings of work.
The first pitch for the series rubber match is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m and will be streamed on SEC Network+. Florida will send Hunter Barco to the mound.