No one had a more grand time during the NCAA tournament's regional round than Mississippi senior Tim Elko.
Playing on his home field, Elko hit a grand slam in a 6-3 win in the opening game of the regional, and then in a winner-take-all final against Southern Mississippi, he delivered another slam in the second inning, giving the Rebels a 9-0 lead. Elko would add a solo homer in the fourth as Ole Miss won 12-9.
"Honestly I hit it so high. The way the outfielder was going after it, I didn't think it was going to get out," Elko said of that second grand slam. "It was kind of a hitter's day, and it carried out."
Elko said hitting a grand slam wasn't on his mind when he stepped in the batter's box Monday.
"When I try to hit home runs, I usually don't," he said. "But now I'm trying to drive the ball more because when I get on base now, I'm not doing a lot of running."
That's because Elko has played the past month on a torn ACL in his right knee. In an April 5 game against North Alabama, Elko avoided running into North Alabama's first baseman, who dived to catch an errant throw. Elko's knee buckled as he made the awkward turn at first.
Elko, who said he's never suffered a serious injury playing baseball before, thought he had dislocated his knee. Instead it was an ACL tear, but he wasn't ready for it to end his season.
He decided to put off surgery until this summer as he wanted to try to play with a brace on the knee.
"I remember telling my dad a day or two after we got that news (from doctors about his options) that I don't feel like I'm done. I really felt I had a chance to come back and help us. It's worked out that way," he said.
Elko returned on May 1, and since then he's hit seven of his team-best 16 home runs. He's also hitting .329 with 54 RBIs, one off the team lead.
"I don't think there'll be much I forget about this. This will be one of the most memorable times of my life," Elko said. "Just the endless support I've had from teammates and coaches and family and fans, and all the ups and downs we had to go through this season. The way we're playing right now as a team, it's been an incredible year. A crazy one, but one I wouldn't change for the world.
"And we definitely have some more to go. I think there's more memories still to be made."
Elko said that Wednesday night shortly after the team landed in Tucson, Arizona, for the super regionals. The Rebels will play fifth-seeded Arizona beginning Friday night.
Arizona won the Pac-12 title, swept its regional, is hitting .327 as a team and averages 8.6 runs per game.
"We need to continue playing like we have been playing," Elko said. "They have a pretty good offense, but I think we have one of the best offenses in the country, as well, and we have some good pitching to back that up."