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 good friend 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 middle of an ideal race of revolutionaries. The ultimate general choice for the NCAA area of 64, they have been the final crew to lose a championship recreation. Elko is their heartbeat, having overcame damage final 12 months to be a celebrity within the post-season. This season, he helped direct a steep climb wanted just for Ole Miss to play in June.
Tim Elko is that man.
– Elie French (@elliefrenchTV) June 20 2022
“No, I am not alone,” Elko mentioned. “This crew got here collectively. We went via loads and have been in a position to get right here as a crew. 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 the most effective baseball recreation when it mattered.”
He’s unpretentious, in accordance with 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 search 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 crew, who completed 16-1, is again after the temporary pandemic season.
On April 5, 2021, Elko tore up the AFC Champions League whereas working 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 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 often called 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.
Nevertheless, sitting within the first base bunker at Charles Schwab Subject 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 maintain us collectively. He dealt with all the things 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 dwelling 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 Could 1 knocked the Rebels right down to the 7-14 SEC.
“Perhaps we weren’t good,” Bianco mentioned, “however Tim did not cease hitting. At instances, it appeared like he was placing us on his again to get right here.”
Ole Miss swept 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 acted as if their season would go on.
“We have been making an attempt to verify everybody thought we have 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 have 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 nasty crew,” Elko mentioned. “We by no means misplaced religion. We by no means misplaced hope. We stored believing and felt we might 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 crew 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 damage final 12 months, Elko acquired affords to signal for MLB golf equipment. Bianco mentioned his resolution to return could 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 probably the most normal reply I may give,” 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 get to 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.
“You’ll be able to say that,” he mentioned. “That is the story you need to inform.”
(Photograph by Ole Miss First Baseman Tim Elko: Dylan Widger/USA As we speak)