Doug Nikhazy had some trouble with his command early, surrendering multiple free passes and two Aggie runs that looked like would give the Rebels trouble in the middle innings. HOWEVER, Ole Miss (33-13, 14-9) tied the game in the fifth and went on to open up a 12-2 lead before some late A&M runs narrowed the gap before the final pitch.
In the short term, the biggest story of the day was Tim Elko’s three-run bomb in what was a seven-run seventh inning. Elko obviously tore his ACL a little over a month ago, and I may or may not have fought back tears as this one left the bat.
I don't believe what I just saw!@TimElko, ladies and gentlemen:— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 8, 2021
• April 5: Tore his ACL
• May 8: First hit since then, a three-run home run to right field!
Regardless of who you are, this is an awesome story. Elko was tearing it up at the plate before his injury, and as the captain of the Ole Miss baseball team, seeing him contribute at the plate, even if it is in a limited capacity, is enough to make a grown man cry. Hopefully we’ll see more of Tim Elko as the season winds down.
In the long term, Saturday’s win was big. Ole Miss probably needs to win this series to feel comfortable about being in the NCAA’s top 20 potential host sites released on Monday, although they could still be on that list with just one win. Still, you’re a better team than Texas A&M, and you need to capitalize on facing the scuffling Aggies, even if it is on the road.
Winning this series would put you at 15-9 in league play with a really strong strength of schedule and a stout RPI. Plus, it gives you a really big matchup with Vanderbilt at Swayze next weekend. That series will be big regardless, but Ole Miss has a chance to make a statement next week should they seal the deal tomorrow.
I will take this time to say that even if Ole Miss wins this series tomorrow, its road to and through the postseason could have gotten more difficult last night if Gunnar Hoglund’s injury is a big deal. My gut tells me (sadly) that it is, although I’m not a doctor. If it does keep Gunnar out for a considerable amount of time (or even the rest of the season), that makes your path in the regional and super regional round, regardless of where they’re held, much more difficult.
I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s on my mind. I think we’ll see a shakeup of the Ole Miss rotation next weekend, similar to what we saw against LSU when Derek Diamond got a Friday night start. I assume we’ll see some combination of Diamond, Nikhazy and Drew McDaniel on the weekends moving forward, but we’ll see.
Also, shout out to the Dean for yet another milestone.
Speaking of Drew, as I write this, Ole Miss is TBA on its starting pitcher for tomorrow afternoon, although I expect it will be McDaniel. Tomorrow’s matchup between the Rebels and the Aggies will, like today, be on ESPNU with a 1 p.m. first pitch.