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 a brilliant territorial sweep within the Miss South and ship the rebels to the Faculty World Collection.
After all, it was Elko.
“It is bizarre how baseball works,” mentioned 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 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 Collection in opposition to Oklahoma.
Elko stands on the heart of an awesome race of revolutionaries. The ultimate general choice for the NCAA subject of 64, they had been the final staff to lose a championship recreation. Elko is their heartbeat, having overcome harm 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 mentioned. “This staff got here collectively. We suffered so much and had been capable of get right here as a staff. It’s an honor to be captain and regarded a captain, however I’m very happy with the way in which we got here collectively and performed one of the best baseball recreation when it mattered.”
He’s unpretentious, in keeping with the folks 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 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 staff, who completed 16-1, is again after the transient 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 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 match, 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 a brilliant regional space Arizona.
Elko underwent knee surgical procedure in June. His resolution 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 Area after the Rebels’ second win in Omaha this week, he referred to 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’s 23 house runs this season, together with a Monday shot that carried 416 ft into left subject, 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 Might 1 knocked the rebels right down to the 7-14 SEC.
“Possibly we weren’t good,” Bianco mentioned, “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 Might, 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 guarantee that everybody thought we had been in (the match),” Elko mentioned.
However they didn’t know. The Rebels gathered on the Dugout Membership in Swayze Area to look at a range 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 nasty 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 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 gained 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 gives to signal for MLB golf equipment. Bianco mentioned his resolution to return influenced Bench and Graham to make the identical resolution.
In Omaha, Elko continued to do his work.
“It feels nice. That is most likely probably the most normal reply I can provide,” Elko mentioned. “However we’re enjoying 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 Collection, 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 applications competed in a post-season, Arkansas gained the rubber recreation in a brilliant regional space for a placement within the CWS.
Elko’s restoration tour contains one other cease.
He mentioned, “You’ll be able to say that.” “That is the story you need to inform.”
(Picture by Ole Miss first man base Tim Elko: Dylan Widger/USA At present)