By Adam Brown
A huge seven-run seventh inning capped off by team captain Tim Elko’s three-run home run propelled No. 12 Ole Miss to a 12-7 over the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday that evened the series.
Elko entered into the game, for only his second at-bat since his torn ACL back in early April. His home run was his tenth of the season.
“It was amazing how I was able to bounce back with support from family, teammates and coaches along with my strength coach,” Elko said. “(The home run) was an awesome moment. I was happy I was able to put some more runs up for my team.”
Ole Miss (33-13, 14-8 SEC) found themselves in an early 2-0 disadvantage to the Aggies after the first three innings. The Rebels starter left-hander Doug Nikhazy settled in on the mound.
“In the third inning I started taking the energy and threw fastballs,” Nikhazy said.
At the plate, Ole Miss had a total of four extra-base knocks off the barrels of Kevin Graham, Ben Van Cleve, Calvin Harris and Elko. Graham and Elko both left the yard.
Nikhazy kept the Aggie bats quit as he retired ten straight batters until the seventh.
“It was a great feeling bouncing back — something that we are used to on a swing day,” Nikhazy said.
Nikhazy worked 6.2 innings to pick up the win against the Aggies. He surrendered four runs on five hits while striking out nine batters and three walks.
The Rebels offense tied the game up in the fifth, as third baseman Justin Bench led the frame off with a walk. Van Cleve two batters later followed with a triple off the wall in left.
Bench finished the day going 2-for-3 with three runs scored and on four times.
Texas A&M started to make a move to climb back into the game in the seventh after being down 12-2 with back-to-back home runs by Logan Sartori and Will Frizzell that made it 12-5.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco called on the arm of Wes Burton in the seventh. Burton tossed two complete innings, allowed three runs on two hits, and struck out three Aggies.
Ole Miss and the Aggies return to the diamond tomorrow for the rubber match of the series. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m. on ESPNU.