In the College World Series, Ole Miss ‘Tim Elko finds the big moments

Omaha, Neb. – Tim Elko, first five-year senior first officer and first three-year captain in historical past Ole Miss Baseball, a pop fly caught behind first base that settled an excellent territorial sweep within the Miss South and ship the rebels within the World School Championships.

In fact, it was Elko.

“It is bizarre how baseball works,” mentioned Justin Bench, Elko’s finest good friend and roommate from their sophomore years.

Elko’s rocky five-season journey displays Ole Miss’s pursuit as a program to achieve the highest in Omaha. The Rebels, after dropping 3-2 on Wednesday evening in opposition to rival SEC West Arkansas On this CWS, you stay one berth victory within the Better of Three Championship Sequence in opposition to Oklahoma.

Elko stands on the middle of an awesome race of revolutionaries. The ultimate general choice for the NCAA area of 64, they have been the final group to lose a championship recreation. Elko is their heartbeat, having overcome damage final 12 months to be a star within the postseason. This season, he helped direct a steep climb wanted solely to play Ole Miss in June.

“No, I am not alone,” Elko mentioned. “This group has come collectively. We have now suffered so much and have been capable of get right here as a group. It’s an honor to be known as a captain and regarded a captain, however I’m very pleased with the best way we got here collectively and performed the very best baseball recreation when it mattered.”

He’s unpretentious, in line with the folks round Elko.

“I believe nice tales have these coincidences,” mentioned Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. “They’ve these moments. They appear to be the greats in these moments. They appear to seek out the nice performs.”

Elko’s profession path began low. He began 30 video games in 2018 and 2019. Then his sizzling opening into 2020 had nothing to do with the season beginning to smoke. The core of the 2020 group, who completed 16-1, is again after the temporary pandemic season.

On April 5, 2021, Elko tore his ACL whereas working off a floor ball in opposition to North Alabama.

One other 12 months ruined, proper? not precisely. Elko is again lower than 4 weeks after his knee damage. He is made two majors in NCAA regional play, posting .778/.858/2.111 slashes in 14 board appearances. Southern Miss coach Scott Berry, who misplaced to the Rebels within the regional event, in contrast Elko to Kirk Gibson – finest identified for Homer in 1988 MLB World Championships whereas hitting injured legs.

The Ole Miss fell final 12 months with one CWS win in an excellent regional space Arizona.

Elko underwent knee surgical procedure in June. His choice to attend for motion worn out any probability of becoming a member of skilled baseball at age 22.

Nonetheless, whereas sitting within the first base bunker at Charles Schwab Discipline after the Rebels’ second win in Omaha this week, he known as final season’s comeback and subsequent manufacturing on the board a “miracle.”

“I would not need that for anybody else,” Bench mentioned. “It doesn’t matter what occurs, he’ll maintain us collectively. He dealt with the whole lot amazingly. To see him undergo that and are available again and play after which to see him come again and have a greater season, it is thrilling to see.”

Elko’s 23 house runs this season, together with a Monday shot that carried 416 ft into left area, set a one-season Ole Miss file. The 45-year-old sits three shy of the present’s file.

For Elko, although, this spring has taken on some roles. The Rebels climbed to primary nationally, as ranked by Baseball America and D1 Baseball, in mid-March. Three weeks later, they weren’t graded.

Ole Miss went 7-10 in April. The loss in Arkansas on Could 1 knocked the rebels all the way down to the 7-14 SEC.

“Perhaps we weren’t good,” Bianco mentioned, “however Tim did not cease hitting. At instances, it seemed like he was placing us on his again to get right here.”

He swept Ole Missouri and ranked ninth LSU In Could, he completed the common season with eight wins in 10 video games earlier than shortly exiting the league championship. A worrying week of coaching and in-group video games adopted after that. The Ole Miss gamers and coaches have been working as if their season will go on.

“We have been attempting to be sure that everybody thought we have been in (the event),” Elko mentioned.

However they didn’t know. The Rebels gathered on the Dugout Membership in Swayze Discipline to look at a variety present on Memorial Day.

“I felt a bit sick in my abdomen whereas we waited,” mentioned first left participant Kevin Graham.

The Postseason Pier breathed new life into the Rebels.

“We have by no means felt like a foul group,” Elko mentioned. “We by no means misplaced religion. We by no means misplaced hope. We saved believing and felt we may do one thing like this. That is why we proceed to have success in these conditions.”

Within the Miami Regional, Ole Miss beat the host Tornadoes And he twice knocked out second-ranked Arizona — the group that worn out the Rebels a 12 months in the past.

Within the regional championship match, Ole Miss received 22-6, and Elko attended 3 times.

In fact, he did.

“It is cool,” Bench mentioned. “It gave me goosebumps.”

Regardless of damage final 12 months, Elko obtained provides to signal for MLB golf equipment. Bianco mentioned his choice to return influenced Bench and Graham to make the identical choice.

In Omaha, Elko continued to do his work.

“It feels nice. That is most likely probably the most common reply I can provide,” Elko mentioned. “However we’re taking part in our greatest baseball recreation proper now. You continue to have some matches to win. I am excited to proceed with it. “

To achieve the Championship Sequence, there’s one other impediment to beat. Arkansas defeated the Rebels within the final two of three common season video games. And in 2019, the final time these packages competed in a postseason, Arkansas received the rubber recreation in an excellent regional space to safe a spot within the CWS.

Elko’s restoration tour consists of one other cease.

He mentioned, “You may say that.” “That is the story you wish to inform.”

(Photograph by Ole Miss first man base Tim Elko: Dylan Widger/USA Right now)