Elk River VFW won two of four games in the District 7 tournament and wound up in fourth place, after being seeded 14th among 26 teams, last Friday through Sunday in Forest Lake.
The Elks, who finished 18-15, qualified for district after upsetting No. 3 Park Center in sub-district.
“It was a tremendous run we went on, and a very fun season,” said coach Ryan Holmgren, who’s also the high school coach. “The best part of the summer was watching these soon to be varsity players accept and buy into what our program is all about.”
He added,”We played eight playoff games, five of them elimination games, in the span of seven days.”
The Elks lost their opener to eventual champion Champlin Park 7-4. Holmgren noted that the four runs was the most the Rebels allowed in the tournament. Jordan Hollom, Andrew McMillen and Jett Brodzinski each had two hits.
In the sudden-death bracket, the Elks beat Blaine 6-3 as Hollom pitched the distance with six strikeouts and no walks. He finished with a 6-3 record. Leadoff batter Erik Nyquist was 4-for-5 with two runs and two steals.
The Elks staved off elimination again with a victory over Fridley on Saturday (score not available). Alex Babcock threw five solid innings, and Joe Gonrowski earned the save as he got Babcock out of a jam in the sixth and notched the final six outs in succession. Nyquist stayed hot at the plate, 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. Mylo Hommes contributed two clutch hits.
Totino-Grace ousted the Elks 10-2 on Sunday evening. Nyquist, taking a 6-1 record into the game, was the starter. “He struggled for the first time all summer,” said Holmgren. The Elks had a 2-0 lead on Hommes’ two-run single in the top of the first, but the Eagles scored seven in their half on timely hits and two costly Elk errors. Nyquist, Hollom and McMillen each had two hits.
Champlin Park beat Totino-Grace in the finals 2-1 in 11 innings.
“We played well down the stretch and built a lot of momentum heading into the off-season,” reflected Holmgren. “I was very proud of the attitudes and commitment to Elk River baseball that our kids showed all summer. That is exactly how we are going to build this program.”