Perennial power Coon Rapids repelled new challenger Elk River 10-6 in a crucial NWSC baseball duel Wednesday.
“They are a talented team,” said Elk coach Ryan Holmgren. “They can hit from one through nine. They have a stud pitcher that we didn’t even see today, and two or three others who’d be aces of most staffs.”
The Elks gave up five runs in the first when they committed three errors, regrouped and forged ahead 6-5 in the fourth, but gave up another five-spot in the fifth.
“That was the difference today,” said Holmgren. “We battled back like we have so many times, but today we gave up another big inning, the first time that has happened.”
Coon Rapids (12-1) is a two-time state champion under longtime coach Jerry Coe and always a factor in the NWSC race. Elk River will finish above .500 for the first time since 2004.
The Elks, Cardinals and Champlin Park entered Wednesday’s games with one conference loss each. The Elks (6-2 conference, 11-2 overall) will close conference with two games at home Saturday against Park Center at 9:30 a.m. and Champlin Park at noon.
Nick Johnson crashed a three-run homer and finished 2-for-4 with four RBI for the Elks. The senior cleanup hitter leads the team with four homers and 21 RBI.
Brady Givens and Jordan Hollom were also 2-for-4 as the Elks totaled eight hits. Terry Hadden walked three times, stole three bases and scored two runs.
Big blows for Coon Rapids were a solo homer by Anthony Mrosa, a two-run double by Jace Hegg, and a pair of RBI singles by Logan Shore (the Cards’ pro prospect hurler).
Porter Morrell took the loss, giving up nine runs (five earned), nine hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. Joe Gonrowski gave up one run in 1 2/3 frames and Givens pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.
Jake Brunner started for Coon Rapids. Mitch Drazkowski relieved during the Elks’ four-run fourth, and blanked the visitors the final three innings to get the win.