by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A stirring seventh-inning rally fell short and Elk River absorbed its first conference loss, 6-5 to Champlin Park, on Thursday, after uncharacteristic lapses put the Elks too far in the hole.
The Elks made five infield errors and botched two bunt attempts while top hurler Tucker Morrell gave up six walks and 10 hits. Three of the runs were unearned.
“Those are uncharacteristic for us, from what I’ve seen,” said coach Ryan Holmgren. “It was an ugly loss. A frustrating day.”
Elk River, now 5-1 in the NWSC and 5-2 overall, trailed 6-1 going into the top of the seventh at Champlin, with Rebel starter Spencer Daniel cruising.
The Elks came alive with a double by Garrett Ott, a walk, and a single by Corey Collins, loading the bases against the lefthander, who was relieved by Bryce Marquardt.
After Porter Morrell’s ground out scored one run, the Elks got three straight RBI singles, by Brandon Meyer, Sam Krick and Brady Givens, making it 6-5. Krick and Givens pulled off a double steal, perching the go-ahead runs at second and third with one out.
But Matt Smith relieved and put out the fire, getting Sam Wirtz on a strikeout and pinch-hitter Tim Sanford on a pop fly. Smith had been the catcher up to then, and went 3-for-4 with a double at the plate.
The Rebels are 4-2 conference, 5-2 overall, with four straight wins.
“Champlin Park is a good club, they’ve won four straight. They made no errors today, and their pitcher had a good game, but we gave this one away,” said Holmgren.
Krick was 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and two stolen bases, and Ott was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI.
The Elks will play at Osseo on Monday.