Late meltdown nixes VCC sweep

Adelman fires shutout, Linkert with six hits in doubleheader

For all but about 20 minutes, the Vermilion Ironmen had a near-perfect day of baseball.
But that 20-minute lull - in a span of more than four hours - cost Vermilion dearly and resulted in a doubleheader split with Northern Division rival Tuesday at Proctor.
After sophomore Lukas Adelman blanked the Norse 10-0 in the opening game, Vermilion blew a 9-3, sixth-inning lead in the nightcap when the Norse sent 12 batters to the plate and tied the score.
Mesabi went on to push across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh and secured the split with a dramatic 10-9 win.
The late-inning meltdown took some of the luster off an otherwise splendid day for the Ironmen, who got superb starting pitching performances from Adelman and fellow sophomore Connor Knettel and ripped 26 hits, including six by freshman Dawson Linkert.
“Until the end, it was about as good as it gets,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “We were cruising toward a sweep, but we let up on the gas a little bit, gave Mesabi an opening with a few mistakes and they took full advantage.”
For the first 11 innings of baseball, Vermilion dominated.
Adelman gave up a one-hitter while working all six frames of the opening game win. He recorded five strikeouts and the Norse hit just two balls out of the infield.
Linkert started his sizzling day with a two-run double in the top of the first. He later would single in a runi n the third and drove home another with a fifth-inning single.
Freshman Kaleb Beane also went three-for-three and reached base five times, finishing with three RBI including a walk-off double in the sixth.
Connor Knettel added two hits and Cody Leslie went two-for-three with a run batted in.
Vermilion kept right on going in the second game, with Linkert’s two-run double and Adelman’s run-scoring triple the big blows in a three-run first.
Linkert added his first career college home run, a solo shot, in the top of the third, while Adelman’s two-run single was the big hit in the fourth.
Freshman Erik Hakamaki and sophomore Kyle Hintz had run-scoring singles in the top of the sixth and the rout seemed to be on.
Knettel worked the first five innings on the mound, fanning nine, scattering six hits and leaving with a 9-3 edge.
Mesabi turned the tide in the sixth, capitalizing on three Vermilion errors and scoring three unearned runs against reliever Jordan Kaczrowski.
Beane came on but allowed three hits and a walk, and the Norse tied the game against Hintz.
Christian Houle’s single in the bottom of the seventh brought home the winning run and capped the rally.

Brad MacDougall and Max Carlson had two hits each for the winners and Joe Wenzel, a Northeast Range graduate, tied the game with a single in the sixth.
Kyle Peterson, the third Mesabi pitcher, earned the win in relief.
Linkert and Adelman had three hits each for VCC, with Adelman driving in three runs.
Freshman catcher Ben Zeidler also finished with two hits for the Ironmen, who are slated to get back on the artificial turf at St. Peter on Sunday, with contests against the Gustavus Adolphus JV and Ridgewater.