Climate change for VCC’s Beane

Florida freshman adjusts to the cold, pitches Ironmen to win

SNOWFLAKES didn’t stop the VCC baseball team from playing last weekend. Photo by Sylvia Linkert.

Until last week, Kaleb Beane had never played baseball in temperatures less than 65 degrees.
The mercury failed to crack 40 Sunday afternoon in Brainerd and intermittent snow flurries were part of the second game of that day’s community college baseball doubleheader, but Beane worked his way through the shivers and pitched Vermilion Community College to its biggest victory of the young season.
Beane, a freshman from Tallahassee, overcame a shaky first inning and scattered eight hits as Vermilion rallied to beat MN State-Fergus Falls 7-4 in the opening game of the twinbill.
The Spartans touched Beane for three first-inning runs, but the righthander warmed up - as much as he could do in the unfamiliar conditions - from there.
“It definitely tightened me up,” Beane said of the conditions. “I was worried about not being as loose as I could possibly be.”
Other than yielding a solo home run in the fourth, Beane kept the Spartans at bay and worked his way out of a sixth-inning jam with his fifth and final strikeout of the day.
In the seventh, Beane got a big lift from sophomore Connor Knettel’s highlight reel catch down the left field foul line, and the Ironmen held on for the win.
“It was a gutty performance all the way around,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “Kaleb could have folded up at the first inning or even asked out, given how cold it was, but he really settled in and threw well and gave us a chance. He seemed to get stronger as the game progressed.”
Beane worked his way through the challenges and emerged with is second win of the spring. The first came in more balmy weather during the Ironmen’s spring trip to Florida.
“It meant a lot,” said Beane. “I’ve always wanted tow in and I just want to help bring that kind of culture to Vermilion and get some wins on the board for us.”
Beane, who starts at second base and is hitting .375 for the Ironmen, will probably be better prepared for the weather the next time his team ventures outdoors.
“You’ve got be tough¯ Beane said. “If you’re not tough you can’t play. I fought through it as much as I could do it.”
Vermilion, 3-8 overall but 2-2 since a season-opening trip to Florida, chipped away at the Spartans after falling behind 3-0.
Sophomore Lukas Adelman, who finished with two hits, tripled in a run in the third to make it 3-2 and Chase Bottin’s sacrifice fly tied the game.
The hosts regained the lead on their home run but VCC tied it in the fifth when Dawson Linkert singled in Beane. Cody Leslie put VCC in front to stay when he beat out an infield grounder, scoring Linkert with the winning run.
Knettel doubled home Kyle Hintz in the sixth, while Hintz singled in Leslie in the seventh for key insurance runs.
In the home half of the seventh, Knettel may have come up with the catch of the season. The left fielder chased a fly ball down the left field line, catching it in full sprint and crashing into the fence in foul territory.
“That was one amazing catch,” said Coombe. “When Connor crashed into the fence I thought he would end up going to the hospital. Somehow he hung on to the ball and even got up and finished the game. He is one tough kid.”
Beane only walked one batter while going the distance, and helped his own cause at the plate by scoring twice.
VCC’s Brady Meyer had two hits, a run batted in and a key sacrifice bunt.
In the nightcap, Spartan ace Jake Dykhoff, a transfer from NCAA Division I North Dakota State, gained his fourth win of the spring in a 9-2 Fergus Falls win.
Dykhoff recorded nine strikeouts in five innings of work but gave up a solo home run to Adelman.
Fergus Falls scored five times in three innings against Adelman, while Leslie and Casey Holman worked in relief.
The Ironmen return to Brainerd this weekend for four games in the Central Lakes Classic, the final tune-up before Northern Division play begins next weekend.
Weather and field conditions permitting, the Ironmen will meet Hibbing in a four-game series, with an April 13 doubleheader on the road and an April 14 date at Ely’s Veterans Memorial Field. Start time each day is 1 p.m.
• Adelman was named Northern Division Pitcher of the Week for his effort in a Mar. 26 win over Mesabi.
The sophomore tossed a shutout, blanking the Norse on one hit and striking out six in VCC’s 10-0, six-inning win.