Elko grand slam propels Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. - Another page in The Legend of Tim Elko was written Friday night as No. 1 seed Ole Miss baseball topped No. 4 seed Southeast Missouri, 6-3, to open NCAA Oxford Regional play.
The senior captain, playing on a torn right ACL, broke a 0-0 tie in the third inning, launching a grand slam home run over the right field wall. He was one of eight Rebels with a hit on the night, including multi-hit nights from Kevin Graham, TJ McCants and Cael Baker. Baker scored a team-best two runs, while McCants and Peyton Chatagnier supplied the Rebels’ two RBI outside of Elko’s four.
On the mound, Derek Diamond turned in a solid start, allowing just two hits and one unearned run in 4.1 innings, which crossed after he had exited the game. Jack Dougherty was solid in relief, yielding two runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out four and walking none over 3.0 innings. From there, Taylor Broadway tossed 1.2 perfect innings with three strikeouts as he picked up his 14th save of the season to claim sole possession of the Rebels’ single-season saves record.
The game started off quietly with no score through two-and-a-half innings as Ole Miss had one and SEMO had just two baserunners in that span—but Swayze finally went crazy in the bottom half of the third.
Cael Baker and John Rhys Plumlee set the table with back-to-back singles to lead it off, then Jacob Gonzalez worked a walk to load the bases for Tim Elko. The Rebel captain, playing with a torn ACL, launched an opposite-field grand slam home run to give the host Rebels a 4-0 lead.
Derek Diamond carried that lead into the fifth before giving up a one-out double. With Diamond’s pitch count nearing 100, Mike Bianco went to the bullpen, bringing on Jack Dougherty. It looked as though the freshman reliever would escape the inning unscathed, but the Redhawks plated their first run on a two-out fielding error on a hard-hit ball to first base. SEMO then knocked back-to-back singles to make it a 4-2 game before Dougherty finally worked through the jam.
Ole Miss got one of those runs back in the bottom half. After roping a double down the left field line, Kevin Graham came around to score on a two-out RBI single by TJ McCants. The second run came back the Rebels’ way in the sixth, starting with a leadoff single by Baker. Peyton Chatagnier drove home the Rebel first baseman on a single to left center to make it a 6-2 ballgame.
In the meantime, Dougherty settled in on the hill, posting back-to-back 1-2-3 innings with three strikeouts along the way. After recording his fourth strikeout of the night, Dougherty gave up back-to-back hits to cut the lead to three and bring Taylor Broadway out of the bullpen. The Rebel closer struck out consecutive Redhawks to escape the jam. It was more of the same in the ninth as Broadway retired three straight SEMO batters to seal the win.
The top-seeded Rebels advance to the winner’s bracket, where they will face No. 3 seed Florida State. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. CT on Saturday.
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