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.
After all, it was Elko.
“It is bizarre how baseball works,” stated Justin Bench, Elko’s greatest buddy 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 a terrific race of revolutionaries. The ultimate total choice for the NCAA subject of 64, they had been the final staff 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.
Tim Elko is that man.
– Elie French (@elliefrenchTV) June 20 2022
“No, I am not alone,” Elko stated. “This staff has come collectively. We have now suffered quite a bit and have been capable of get right here as a staff. It’s an honor to be known as a captain and thought of a captain, however I’m very pleased with the way in which we got here collectively and performed the perfect baseball recreation when it mattered.”
He’s unpretentious, in accordance with the folks round Elko.
“I feel nice tales have these coincidences,” stated Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. “They’ve these moments. They appear to be the greats in these moments. They appear to search out the good performs.”
Elko’s profession path began low. He began 30 video games in 2018 and 2019. Then his scorching opening into 2020 had nothing to do with the season beginning to smoke. The core of the 2020 staff, who completed 16-1, is again after the transient pandemic season.
On April 5, 2021, Elko tore his ACL whereas operating 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 – greatest recognized 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.
Nevertheless, whereas sitting within the first base bunker at Charles Schwab Subject 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 stated. “It doesn’t matter what occurs, he’ll preserve us collectively. He dealt with all the pieces 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 dwelling runs this season, together with a Monday shot that carried 416 toes into left subject, set 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 Could 1 knocked the rebels right down to the 7-14 SEC.
“Possibly we weren’t good,” Bianco stated, “however Tim did not cease hitting. At occasions, it appeared 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 rapidly 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 had been attempting to ensure that everybody thought we had been in (the event),” Elko stated.
However they didn’t know. The Rebels gathered on the Dugout Membership in Swayze Subject to look at a variety present on Memorial Day.
“I felt a bit sick in my abdomen whereas we waited,” stated first left participant Kevin Graham.
The Postseason Pier breathed new life into the Rebels.
“We have by no means felt like a nasty staff,” Elko stated. “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 second-ranked Arizona — the staff that worn out the Rebels a 12 months in the past.
Within the regional championship match, Ole Miss gained 22-6, and Elko attended thrice.
After all, he did.
“It is cool,” Bench stated. “It gave me goosebumps.”
Regardless of damage final 12 months, Elko acquired provides to signal for MLB golf equipment. Bianco stated 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 in all probability essentially the most normal reply I can provide,” Elko stated. “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 succeed in the Championship Sequence, there may be 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 gained 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 stated, “You possibly can say that.” “That is the story you wish to inform.”
(Picture by Ole Miss first man base Tim Elko: Dylan Widger/USA At the moment)