by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
In a duel of unbeaten teams, the Hopkins Royals fended off the Elk River Elks 8-5 in eight innings Tuesday with a big triple keying a three-run burst that won it, at Hales Field.
“They are very good, the best team we’ve faced, certainly a legitimate top-ten team,” said Elk coach Ryan Holmgren about the No. 9 ranked Royals, who improved to 4-0 and dropped the Elks to 4-1.
Hopkins cleanup hitter Alex Hunter singled home a run during a three-run first off starter Brandon Meyer, and tripled home another during the three-run eighth off reliever Brady Givens.
The Elks, down 5-2, scored single runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh, with Sam Krick knotting the score in the seventh on a throwing error after he singled and was bunted to second by Givens.
In the eighth, Givens, who picked up saves in his two previous appearances, gave up a walk and Hunter’s triple, then hit a batter. The next two runs scored on a sac fly and a balk. The Elks also had their lone error of the game in the seventh.
Givens was 3-for-3 at the late, with two singles and a double that each drove home a run, plus the sac bunt. Corey Collins was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs. Krick got aboard four times on a single, two walks and hit-by-pitch, and scored two runs. Tucker Morrell had three walks and a sac bunt in five trips.
Meyer gave up five runs (four earned) in four innings. Elk catcher Porter Morrell took over on on the mound and fired three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, with that runner erased on a double play. He struck out one and walked none.
Jay Homan threw the first four-plus innings for Hopkins, allowing four runs. Nate Ellis finished and got the win, allowing just the one unearned run in the seventh.
The Elks, 4-0 in the NWSC, resume conference play Wednesday at Centennial.