Ironmen advance to regionals

Pitchers Wiirre, Peterson help secure second-place division finish

The Vermilion Ironmen accomplished two of their goals, fell short of a third and will begin work on another this weekend.
Two wins last weekend assured the community college baseball team of a winning season and the program’s first regional playoff berth since 2010, as well as a second-place finish in the Northern Division.
Masterful pitching performances by Jakob Wiirre and Steven Peterson helped the Ironmen gain a split with rival Itasca, and Vermilion finished the regular season with a 19-13 record.
Wiirre fired a three-hitter with eight strikeouts in Sunday’s 5-2 victory, while Peterson went the distance and tossed a four-hitter the day before, as VCC beat the Vikings 4-2 in Grand Rapids.
The Ironmen opened play in the Region 13 Playoffs Friday at St. Cloud, taking on MN State-Fergus Falls in the double-elimination event. A date with top-seeded and nationally-ranked St. Cloud Tech would come with a first-round win.
Vermilion went to St. Cloud armed with some momentum, and on the heels of some strong pitching performances.
In addition to the two wins against Itasca, VCC had well-pitched games in a pair of defeats.
Ryan Kling took the tough-luck loss in Sunday’s 2-0 opening game defeat, while Jacob Worley allowed only four earned runs in a 7-3 decision that opened the series.
“If we pitch like we did last weekend, we’ll be in any game we play at the regional,” said head coach Tom Coombe. “It’s going to come down to pitching, and our guys can give us a chance if they throw like that.”
Wiirre, who hails from Titusville, Fla., but is the son of 1995 Ely graduate Ann (Kondos) Wiirre, put together his best outing of the year in chilly conditions Sunday afternoon.
After giving up a run in the first inning, the hard-throwing righthander settled in.
Three walks led to a run in the sixth, but Wiirre otherwise dominated, holding Itasca to just three hits - only two left the infield - and recording key outs when he needed to.
Wiirre also helped his own cause, lining a two-run single that keyed a three-run third inning.
The frame was set up by a nine-pitch at-bat from number-nine hitter Nils DeRemee.
The Ely graduate drew a walk and set the stage for the uprising, and he drove in a run the following inning as well.
“Nils didn’t have a hit, but he helped win that game by those two at bats,” said Coombe. “Those are the kind of things that don’t show up in a box score but yet are so important in a close game.”
Jonathan Leon also drove in a run for the Ironmen.
The second-game win helped ease some of the sting from a 2-0 loss in the opener.
Kling worked into and out of trouble and kept Vermilion close, but the Ironmen struggled against Itasca lefty Riley Resnick.
Resnick threw a complete-game three-hitter and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth.
On Saturday, Itasca scored early and late against Worley on the way to a first-game win, and three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth helped seal things.
Wiirre had a solo home run for the Ironmen.
Peterson, a Bemidji graduate, helped Vermilion rebound in the nightcap and was backed by a defense that turned two double plays.
Wiirre’s two-run single in the fourth opened things up for Vermilion, and Worley had a run-scoring single during the inning.
• The Ironmen need at least three wins this weekend in order to advance to the regional “Final Four” which begins Thursday at St. Cloud.