OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) – A vaunted pitching performance by top-ranked Louisville dropped the No. 18 Ole Miss baseball team, 7-2, on Opening Day at Swayze Field.
Ole Miss (0-1) enshrined two-time All-American and Rebel great Jake Gibbs’ No. 41 on the left field wall prior to first pitch on Friday, but the presence of the two-sport legend didn’t propel the home team to victory. On the night, another two-sport star, freshman outfielder John Rhys Plumlee scored the first run of the season for the Rebels, driven in by junior shortstop Anthony Servideo, who tallied a pair of hits to start the season strong.
Preseason All-American Reid Detmers threw nine strikeouts over 5.0 innings and surrendered one run for Louisville (1-0). Doug Nikhazy, a 2019 Freshman All-American, went 5.1 innings and tossed five strikeouts while allowing four runs.
The first inning was eventful for both offenses, with each starting pitcher laboring through at least 25 pitches apiece. Nikhazy allowed the first two runners to reach on a leadoff single and walk, respectively. Another two-out walk loaded the bases for the Cardinals, but the Rebel ace was able to shut down the rally with an inning-ending strikeout, his second of the frame.
In the bottom half, Servideo led off with a double into left-center field, but the Rebels failed to capitalize and went down on strikes three times to Detmers.
Nikhazy would go 1-2-3 in his next four innings, cruising all the way through the end of the fifth. The Rebel starter allowed just one runner to during that span, after a walk in the third inning, but was quickly wiped off the basepath with a Nikhazy pickoff.
If Nikhazy was in cruise control, however, his counterpart in Detmers was even more so. The Louisville starter didn’t allow a hit after Servideo’s leadoff double until the fifth inning and struck out nine along the way.
The Rebels finally broke through offensively in the fifth after designated hitter Ben Van Cleve led off the inning with a double into the right field corner. Freshman John Rhys Plumlee replaced him on the basepath, and it paid dividends as he was able to reach third on a Hayden Dunhurst flyout to center field. With two outs, Servideo was able to plate Plumlee on an RBI single over the head of the second baseman for his second hit of the game.
Ole Miss claimed the first lead of the game with Servideo’s RBI, but it didn’t last long.
Nikhazy’s gem came to an end in the sixth inning, when Louisville was able to plate four runs on two singles and three doubles. The Cardinals led off the inning with back-to-back singles, which were followed by back-to-back doubles to score three. The Rebel starter was relieved for Taylor Broadway with one out, and though he allowed one more double and a run credited to Nikhazy, Broadway was able to close the inning with a strike out and a caught stunning stealing at third base by Dunhurst.
The Rebels were able to string one more run together in the eighth inning, after a pair of hits from Peyton Chatagnier and Justin Bench. The freshman second baseman started off the spree with the first hit of his young career, a single through the six hole, before Bench brought him home with a two-out RBI single.
The Cardinals quickly added three final runs in the ninth when they were able to capitalize on a series of Rebel errors and a few hits to push the final score to 7-2.
The loss is just Bianco’s second on opening day in 20 years as head coach of the Rebels. Ole Miss will look to avenge the defeat and even the series Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT.
– Ole Miss opens the season at 0-1 on the year
– The Rebels drop their first season opener since 2010, a 5-6 loss against Louisiana-Monroe.
– Ole Miss has only lost two season openers in 20 seasons under head coach Mike Bianco.
– The Rebels fall to 8-9 all-time against Louisville.
– Freshman Peyton Chatagnier and junior Ben Van Cleve recorded their first NCAA hits.
– The following Rebels made career debuts today: Chatagnier, Van Cleve, Cael Baker, Hayden Dunhurst, Jerrion Ealy, John Rhys Plumlee and Logan Savell.