Turf gives VCC chance to resume

Ironmen slated for baseball doubleheaders this week, starting on Wednesday at Aurora

The Vermilion Ironmen are quite thankful for artificial turf.
With snow still covering most area fields and frost well into the ground, it figures to be weeks before Ely’s Veterans Memorial Field and other natural playing surfaces are ready for action.
Yet the community college baseball team could play as many as six games in the next nine days.
Fresh from a season-opening, spring trip to Florida, the Ironmen are set to tangle with Mesabi at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Aurora, which has an artificial turf field at Mesabi East High School.
Vermilion is also set to travel south, for doubleheaders with Fergus Falls and Anoka-Ramsey, March 27-28 with contests set on turf at Gustavus Adolphus and in the Twin Cities.
Over the last decade, numerous artificial turf fields have opened across the state, providing a boon for college baseball teams usually idled until early-to-mid-April.
“For the college teams, turf is a Godsend,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “Now we’re able to play in late-March and into April where otherwise we’d have to sit and wait or travel south to Iowa. It’s made it a whole lot easier to schedule and get a full season in. My first year here we went to Florida and then waited almost a month before we played again. That’s a thing of the past.”
The Ironmen emerged from their Florida trip with three victories, including two wins in three contests against Mesabi.
Catcher Graham Porter leads Vermilion at the plate, hitting nearly .500, while second-year returnees Cameron Peterson (.363) and Jovann Hamlin-Arana (.333) also swung hot bats. VCC also figures to get a boost from Alaskan Terren Sugita, who was an All-Northern Division honoree in 2021.
On the mound, VCC boasts a staff led by second-year players Andrew Birko, Ryan Kling and Jacob Worley, while Hermantown native Ian Ritchie fanned nine in a Florida victory over Mesabi, while North Woods graduate and Ely Legion star Zach Cheney picked up a save in a win against Ridgewater.
Weather permitting, VCC will play its first home game on Friday, April 15.