In Ole Miss’ 22-6 win over Arizona on Monday, which earned the Rebels a spot in the NCAA baseball super regionals for the third consecutive tournament, senior first baseman Tim Elko stepped to the plate six times.
In each of those six plate appearances, something good happened for his team, as he recorded two walks and four hits. Three of the hits were home runs.
By the end of the game, Elko had crossed home plate himself as many times as the entire Arizona team, all while driving in five additional runs.
Elko’s incredible outing started with a two-run shot to right-center to open the scoring in the top of the first inning.
📺 ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/LrawGBuIni
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) June 6, 2022
He went deep again in the third, tying a program record with his 21st home run of the season.
HOME RUN NO. 21! TIM TIES THE SINGLE-SEASON RECORD!
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— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) June 6, 2022
Elko’s record-breaking homer four innings later made it 19-5.
HOME RUN HAT TRICK FOR TIM ELKO 🎩🎩🎩 pic.twitter.com/VPe3WonU9c
— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) June 7, 2022
Predictably, Elko was named MVP of the Coral Gables Regional. He recorded seven hits, seven runs and seven RBIs in Ole Miss’ three games there, ending the weekend with a .778 batting average, an .857 on-base percentage and a 2.111 slugging percentage.
Elko also drove in both of the Rebels’ runs in their 2-1 victory against regional host Miami on Sunday. The performance was much needed for Elko, who leads the team in home runs (22) and RBIs (68) with a batting average of .306 but had gone hitless in Ole Miss’ four previous contests.
“It means so much,” the Lutz, Florida, native said on the field after Monday’s win, while wearing his cross necklace. “I love all these guys with my whole heart. And I’m just so proud of how we’ve come through and overcome so much this year. It’s been a crazy ride, but we’ve got a lot of story left to write.”
Elko was a guest on the Sports Spectum Podcast in December, where he recounted his baseball journey as well as detailed how he came to faith in Christ.
He explained that he was born to parents who were “strong Christians” and introduced him to Christianity when he was a child. Now, his involvement in a baseball team Bible study and attendance at Fellowship of Christian Athletes events during his five years at Ole Miss have continued to strengthen that faith.
“God’s gonna love you the same forever and always no matter what,” he said on the podcast. “But I think that a big thing too is that you’ve got to stay connected with Him and continue your learning and continue your connection from your end.”
Elko gained national attention last season when he returned to the field less than a month after tearing his ACL in early April. When doctors told Elko it might be possible for him to postpone surgery and finish the season, he surrendered the situation to the Lord and trusted in His healing power.
“After I found out it was a torn ACL, I was praying about it and having a lot of people pray for me as well,” Elko said on the podcast. “I just never felt like that was it. Once they told me there was a chance you could come back and play, we were praying that God would make that happen and He really gave me peace in the fact that it was going to happen.”
Upon his return, he hit two home runs in an SEC Tournament game against Vanderbilt and a grand slam against Southeast Missouri in Ole Miss’ first game at the Oxford Regional. After advancing last season, Elko proclaimed his faith in Christ while being interviewed on the field after the game.
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) June 8, 2021
Elko explained on the podcast the crucial role his faith played in helping him find peace and joy while rehabbing his knee.
“I really have to give Him everything because He really did give me the strength, gave me the confidence and all of that, and gave me the joy to get through it all,” he said.
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After losing to Arizona in the super regionals in 2021, Elko decided to take advantage of his extra year of eligibility and return for one more run at a national championship. He’s surpassed the first hurdle and now turns his attention to the Hattiesburg Super Regional and another matchup with No. 11 Southern Miss.
The teams have played twice this season, with the Rebels losing 10-7 in April and winning 4-1 in May.
The first game of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
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