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VCC makes baseball regional

CELEBRATION - Vermilion baseball players jumped for joy after clinching a playoff spot last Sunday afternoon in Aurora. The Ironhawks opened play Thursday at the NJCAA Div. III Regional 13 Tournament at St. Cloud. Photo courtesy of Becky Gilley

On final day of regular season, offense erupts against Northland


On a do-or-die day, the Vermilion Ironhawks flat out did.

An offense that sputtered the day before erupted for 30 runs in two games, while Vermilion got just enough pitching to pick up not only a sweep - but a postseason berth.

The community college baseball team swept Northland 16-7 and 14-7 to finish the regular season with a 10-10 record in Northern Division play and beat both the Pioneers and Hibbing via tiebreaker to grab the third and final playoff spot out of the division.

Vermilion (15-19) was set to take on Rochester Thursday at St. Cloud to open play in the 10-team, double-elimination event.

After two losses to Northland Saturday in Ely, Vermilion’s odds for a postseason berth dipped. But that changed Sunday at Aurora.

Mason Kostka, Jesus Trejo and Michael Feralio all homered in the opening game, with Trejo’s grand slam capping off a seven-run first inning.

Kostka, who has sizzled at the plate in division play and raised his average to a team-best .400, had four hits and five runs batted in during the game.

That staked DeSoto Hood to a cushion, and the freshman from Florida worked four frames on the way to his fourth pitching win of the spring.

Angel Torres was lights out in relief, striking out eight batters in three innings and allowing only an infield hit.

Hood helped his cause with two hits, sophomore catcher Charlie Wonser drove in two runs and Feralio wound up with three hits and four RBI.

Jake Casazza scored three runs and Marcus Haire added two for Vermilion.

In the second game, Vermilion fell behind 4-0 in the bottom of the first on two home runs, but a successful appeal of first base on the second round-tripper took erased two runs from the Pioneers’ total.

After that, freshman pitcher Jacob Mickelson settled in and went the distance, picking up his third win in nine days and his fourth this season.

The Hugo native scattered nine hits and fanned seven Northland batters.

Meanwhile, the Vermilion offense kept right on rolling.

The Ironhawks had four-run outbursts in both the second and fourth innings and put things away with a six-run seventh.

Casazza had a two-run single during the inning.

Vermilion had numerous contributors on offense with Trejo ripping a two-run double and finishing with two runs scored and three RBI.

Haire was two-for-three with three runs scored, sophomore Cameron Peterson had two hits and two runs and both Wonser and Frankie Wildes had two hits and two RBI.

On Saturday, freshman Jake Palomo was the tough-luck losing pitcher in a 4-2 opening game defeat.

He allowed only three hits and one earned run while finishing with seven strikeouts.

Peterson had a two-run double in the seventh but Vermilion stranded two runners in scoring position.

Hood had his first career home run, a grand slam, in the second game but Northland outscored Vermilion 13-7.

Kostka, Wonser and Peterson all had two hits for the Ironhawks.

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