Ironmen beat Mesabi in Florida sunshine

Vermilion’s Kaleb Beane returned to familiar territory and made quite a first impression.
The native of Tallahassee, Fla., returned to the Sunshine State for the Ironmen’s season-opening baseball trip and had two strong pithcing performances.
The first was March 8, when he gave up two hits over five innings and pitched the Ironmen to a 9-1 victory over Northern Division rival Mesabi.
Beane’s outing, as well as a strong second start in a 7-1 loss to Division II Lewis and Clark (Ill.) Monday, along with sophomore Kyle Hintz’s gem in a hard-luck 2-1 Tuesday defeat to MN State-Fergus Falls were among the highlights of a weeklong stay for the Ironmen.
“I thought it was a good trip,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “We got some questions answered about our pitching staff. Kaleb had two excellent outings and Kyle, in his first-ever start, pitched well enough to beat Fergus Falls. You can’t measure this trip by wins and losses and most of the Minnesota teams struggled down there in that regard.”
VCC went 1-6 for the week, the same record it had a year ago, while division rivals Mesabi (1-6) and Hibbing (1-10) also struggled in their first action outdoors.
The Ironmen’s lone win came against Mesabi at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale, as freshman Chase Bottin had four runs batted in, three on his first career home run.
Dawson Linkert added more freshman punch to the lineup and contributed two hits, while Brady Meyer’s gapper to center plated a run.
Sophomore Lukas Adelman tripled and freshman Cody Leslie added two hits.
That was more than enough to back up Beane, who worked out of an early jam and fanned five batters in his first start.
Beane was effective on the mound Tuesday, giving up two earned runs in five innings as VCC fell 7-1 to Lewis and Clark, a Division II scholarship junior college.
The Division III Ironmen also lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to fellow Minnesota school MN State-Fergus Falls Tuesday, as the Spartans pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
That foiled an otherwise excellent start on the mound by Hintz. The second-year player from Mongomery gave up five hits and struck out four while going the distance.
He took a shutout into the sixth, but the Spartans scored twice with two outs and reliever Skyler Mursu retired VCC in order in the seventh.
Bottin singled in VCC’s only run, and both he and Beane had two hits at the plate.
Linkert, a freshman from North Branch, ripped three hits and Leslie had two in an 11-8 loss Monday to Owens (Ohio).
Vermilion had its chances in that game, stranding 11 runners and leaving the bases loaded in the seventh.
Sophomore Connor Knettel fell to 0-2 on the mound but gave up six unearned runs.
Leslie, Meyer and Jordan Kaczrowski all worked on the mound for the Ironmen.
Vermilion took part in the RussMatt Classic, an event that attracts hundreds of college baseball teams, from the junior college level to four-year schools.
Following the spring trip, it’s a waiting game for the Ironmen as they wait for fields to try.
They are tentatively scheduled to play a doubleheader Mar. 26 on artificial turf at Proctor, against Wisconsin-Barron County, with a weekend trip to Anoka-Ramsey to follow Mar. 30-31, if weather allows.