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

Omaha, Neb. – Tim Elko, first senior officer of his first 12 months in 12 months 5 and first captain for 3 years 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 Championship.

After all, it was Elko.

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

Elko’s rocky five-season journey displays Ole Miss’s pursuit as a program to succeed in the highest in Omaha. The Rebels, after shedding 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 heart of an awesome race of revolutionaries. The ultimate total choice for the NCAA area of 64, they had been the final staff to lose a championship sport. Elko is their heartbeat, having overcame harm final 12 months to be a famous person within the post-season. This season, he helped direct a steep climb wanted just for Ole Miss to play in June.

“No, I am not alone,” Elko mentioned. “This staff got here collectively. We went by rather a lot and had been capable of get right here as a staff. It’s an honor to be captain and thought of a captain, however I’m very happy with the best way we got here collectively and performed one of the best baseball sport when it mattered.”

He’s unpretentious, based on the individuals round Elko.

“I feel 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 good 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 in smoke. The core of the 2020 staff, who completed 16-1, is again after the transient pandemic season.

On April 5, 2021, Elko tore up the AFC Champions League whereas operating out 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 harm. 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 referred to as Homer in 1988 MLB World Championships whereas hitting injured legs.

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

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

Nonetheless, 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 preserve us collectively. He dealt with every little thing 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 has clocked 23 residence runs this season, together with a Monday shot that carried 416 toes into left area, a one-season Ole Miss document. The 45-year-old sits three shy of the present’s document.

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 Might 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 occasions, it seemed like he was placing us on his again to get right here.”

Ole Miss swept Missouri and ranked ninth LSU In Might, 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 acted as if their season would go on.

“We had been making an attempt to verify everybody thought we had been in (the event),” Elko mentioned.

However they didn’t know. The Rebels gathered on the Dugout Membership at Swayze Stadium to observe the Memorial Day choice present.

“I had a sense of illness in my abdomen whereas we had been ready,” mentioned first left participant Kevin Graham.

The Postseason Pier breathed new life into the Rebels.

“We have by no means felt like a foul staff,” Elko mentioned. “We by no means misplaced religion. We by no means misplaced hope. We stored 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 quantity two Arizona — the staff 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.

After all, he did.

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

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

In Omaha, Elko continued to do his work.

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

To get to 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 sport in an excellent regional space to safe a spot within the CWS.

Elko’s restoration tour consists of one other cease.

“You’ll be able to say that,” he mentioned. “That is the story you need to inform.”

(Picture by Ole Miss First Baseman Tim Elko: Dylan Widger/USA Right this moment)