by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Four home runs is usually more than a season’s worth in Elk River baseball.
But the first-place Elks went deep that many times in one game Wednesday as they pummeled Centennial 9-2 at Circle Pines.
Brady Givens smashed a three-run homer in the first inning, Sam Wirtz drilled solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings, and Sam Krick unloaded a three-run blast in the sixth.
In a ballpark roughly the same size as their own, the Elks tied a school record that has stood since the 1981 Elks hit four against Irondale, said Elk coach Ryan Holmgren, who has a list of team records that were compiled by former coach Tim Nelson.
Terry Hadden got the win as Elk River improved to 5-0 in the Northwest Suburban Conference.
The Elks (5-1 overall) are leading the league alone. Maple Grove, ranked third in the state, has one conference loss (to Blaine) while Centennial, Blaine, Coon Rapids and Champlin Park have two each. The Elks will play at Champlin Park on Thursday.
Holmgren credited his homerun hitters with using their heads as well as their bats.
“In all four of those at-bats, we got into a hitters’ count (ahead in the count) and did a great job being selective and waiting for a certain pitch,” he said.
The righthanded Givens, all of 145 pounds, hit a no-doubter that soared over the fence in left-center and split the uprights of a football practice field goal post on the other side, appropriately giving the Elks three runs.
“Everyone was absolutely shocked about that one,” said Holmgren, adding that one of the coaches asked Givens if he got all of it and the junior infielder answered, “Yup, I think I did.”
It was Givens’ second round-tripper of the year. Until this game he had the team’s lone homer.
Wirtz, right-handed, cleared the left-center and right-center fences in successive at-bats and Krick, left-handed, pulled his to right-center.
Hadden, junior righthander, worked six innings, giving up just three hits and four walks, and one run, striking out two. Wirtz struck out two batters in the seventh and gave up a run on a double and the Elks’ lone error.
Cougar starter Steve Piette took the loss, giving up six runs in four innings. Jake Reese finished.
Porter Morrell went 3-for-5 with an RBI for the Elks, who punched 13 hits. Tucker Morrell was 2-for-3, and Givens, Wirtz, and Corey Collins each 2-for-4.