Baseball: Elk VFW upsets Park Center, advances to district

Elk River VFW baseball has made a surprising run to the final eight of the District 6 tournament after being seeded 14th among 26 teams with a 9-9 league record.

The Elks nipped Cooper 4-2 in a playoff game last Sunday, then won a best-2-of-3 series over No. 3 Park Center.

“The Park Center team we beat was 24-9 going into our series,” said coach Ryan Holmgren, also the Elk varsity coach.  “They had seven players who were key members of their varsity this spring. We had zero varsity players and only one who played JV.”

The  Elks now face top-seeded Champlin Park at noon Friday in district quarterfinals at Forest Lake.

The Elks romped 27-9 in game one against Park Center on Monday led by Joe Gonrowski’s monster game – nine RBI’s on 4-for-4 with three triples and two walks. The Elks scored 11 in the first, all after two out, and had 23 hits. Alex Babcock was winning pitcher.

Park Center won game two 7-6 in the 10th inning Wednesday. The game was suspended by darkness after nine innings Tuesday. Left fielder Gonrowski threw out a runner at the plate  in the seventh to preserve the 6-6 tie.

The Elks, behind pitcher Erik Nyquist, won game three 8-3.

“Our team is made up of all sophomores from last spring and our VFW league is the largest and most competitive 16-and-under league in the state,” said Holmgren.