Tim Elko, Ole Missi’s heartbeat, takes Rebels to the edge of the CWS Championship

OMAHA, Neb. – Be Miss’s fifth-year-old key player in baseball history and first three-year-old captain Tim Elko hit the fly at the first base, which hit a high-altitude zone in Southern Missis and sent insurgents. College World Series.

Of course it was Elko.

“It’s weird how baseball works,” said Justin Bench, Elko’s good friend and roommate from their sophomore year.

Elko’s rocky journey through five seasons reflects Ole Missi’s quest to reach the top of Omaha. After losing 3: 2 to SEC West rival Arkansas on Wednesday night, the Rebels are one victory out of the top three in Oklahoma.

Elko is at the center of a remarkable run by the rebels. The last big selection in the NCAA 64-a-side field, they were the last team to lose a game in the tournament. Elko is to their heartbeat as he overcame last year’s injury to play in the offseason. This season, he helped lead the steep rise that was only needed to play Ole Missi in June.

“No, it’s not just me,” Elko said. “This team has come together. We’ve been through so much and been able to get here as a team. It’s an honor to be called a captain and considered a leader, but I’m just as proud of how we’ve come together and played our best baseball than it is.” it is important.

He is modest, according to the people around Elko.

“I think these stories are great stories,” said Ole Missi coach Mike Bianco. “They have those moments. They seem to be big in those moments. They seem to find great plays.

Elko’s career path started low. In 2018 and 2019, he started with 30 games. After that, his 2020 opening games didn’t read anything, as the season went up in smoke. The core of the 2020 team, which finished 16: 1, returned after a season shortened by the pandemic.

On April 5, 2021, Elko tore the ACL when he ran a bottom ball against North Alabama.

One year broken again, right? Not quite. Elko returned less than four weeks after her knee injury. He won two major slam tournaments in the NCAA Regional Game, posting a 0.78 / .858 / 2.111 slash on 14 recordings. Southern Miss coach Scott Berry, who lost to Rebels at the regional championships, compared Elko to Kirk Gibson, who is best known for beating two injured legs in the 1988 MLB World Series.

Ole Miss was one win behind CWS in the Arizona Superregion last year.

Elko underwent knee surgery in June. His decision to wait with the proceedings lost any chance of becoming a 22-year-old baseball pro.

However, sitting at the first base of Charles Schwab Field in Omaha this week after Rebels’ second win, he described his return last season and the production that followed as “miracles.”

“I wouldn’t want that on any other man,” Bench said. “Whatever happens, he keeps us together. He’s done amazingly well. It’s exciting to see how he lives through it and comes back to play and then see him coming back and doing an even better season.

Elko’s 23 home runs this season, including a shot on Monday that took 416 feet to the left, set a record for one season for Ole Missi. His 45 career homeowners fall short of the program record three times.

Indeed, for Elko, this spring took a few turns. The rebels rose nationally to No. 1 in the Baseball America and D1Baseball rankings in mid-March. Three weeks later, they were ranked.

Ole Miss went from April 7 to 10. The loss to Arkansas on May 1 fell to Rebels at 7:14 SEC.

“We may not be good,” Bianco said, “but Tim never stopped hitting. At times, he seemed to be chasing us to get here.”

Ole Miss conquered Missouri and LSU in ninth place in May, then finished the main season with eight wins in 10 games before making a quick exit from the league. Next came a worrying week of training and in-team games. The Ole Missi players spent the break getting a rerun of the team’s tactical organization and regained a solid organization when the game started again.

“We tried to make sure everyone believed we were (participating in) the tournament,” Elko said.

But they did not know. The rebels gathered at the Swayze Field Club in Dugout to watch a selection show on Memorial Day.

“I was feeling a little bad in my stomach while waiting,” said senior left defender Kevin Graham.

The berth after the season blew new life into the rebels.

“We’ve never felt like we’re a bad team,” Elko said. “We never lost faith. We never lost hope. We stayed to believe and felt we could do something like that. That is why we continue to succeed in these situations.

In the Miami area, Ole Miss defeated host Hurricanes and knocked out second-placed Arizona, a team that turned off rebels a year ago.

Ole Miss won 22: 6 in the regional championship game and Elko hit home three times.

Of course he did.

“It’s cool,” Bench said. “It made me shiver.”

Despite last year’s injury, Elko was able to sign deals with MLB clubs. According to Bianco, his decision to return was affected by the fact that Benchi and Graham made the same choice.

In Omaha, Elko has done his thing.

“It sounds amazing. It’s probably the most general answer I can give,” Elko said, “but we’re just playing our best baseball right now.” Some games have yet to win. I am happy to continue. “

Another obstacle must be overcome to reach the championship series. Arkansas won Rebels in the final two of three games in the regular season. And in 2019, the last time these programs fought in the afternoon, Arkansas won an extraordinary rubber match to win a CWS ticket.

Elko Lunatur has one more stop.

“You could say that,” he said. “It’s a story they want to tell.”

(Photo of Ole Elsi’s first lead player, Tim Elko: Dylan Widger / USA Today)

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