Elk River’s VFW team had too high a hill to climb at the end, losing in the district finals to a talented Champlin Park team 10-0 on Tuesday evening at Anoka.
“We won six elimination games in the tournament, including the last five in a row,” said coach Ryan Holmgren. “The kids gave everything they had, but that’s an incredibly hard hill to climb after you lose that first game.”
Champlin Park’s Aaron Kloepner pitched the five-inning shutout, allowing four hits, while his team put on another impressive hitting display. Taking the loss was A.J. Overton, who was back on the mound after pitching seven innings in a win over Armstrong on Monday.
“A.J. said, ‘I can go,’ and he gutted out 3 1/3 innings, but you could see he had a tired arm,” said Holmgren.
After the 27-team team district was pared to eight, the Elks lost their quarterfinal to Champlin Park 10-0, then won five straight, including 16-15 over Champlin Park on Monday to force a second game.
However, the Rebels showed they were the best team in the finals, and earned a trip to state next weekend in Brainerd.
“They have a varsity-level caliber team,” said Holmgren. “They have a bunch of good athletes who can not only hit but also a lot of team speed.”