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VCC ousted from regionals

CLOWNING AROUND - After clinching a regional tournament berth, Vermilion baseball players posed for a photo including Jake Palomo, Angel Torres, Charlie Spahn, Frankie Wildes, Jake Casazza and Kelbee Woodham. Photo by Becky Grilley

Extra-inning defeat, pitchers’ duel brings season to an end

Vermilion created some anxious moments for its opponents but ultimately came up short in two tightly-contested games at the regional playoffs in St. Cloud.

Rochester rallied to pull out an 11-10, 10-inning victory in the opening round of the May 11 NJCAA Region 13 community college baseball event, while Alexandria ended Vermilion’s season with a 3-0 decision that night.

It was a difficult end for a Vermilion team that won 15 games this spring and reached the postseason for the second time in three years.

“We competed, no doubt about that,” said head coach Tom Coombe. “A break here or there and we could have won either or both games.”

Seeded ninth among 10 teams, Vermilion gave favored Rochester a battle and led 6-1 after a second-inning outburst.

A home run over the left field scoreboard by sophomore Michael Feralio put Vermilion up 7-4 in the fifth, but Rochester rallied to grab 8-7 and 10-9 leads.

Rochester misplayed a bunt in the top of the ninth allowing Vermilion to tie the game, but the Ironhawks left the bases loaded.

That came back to haunt them as Rochester’s Yanseph Llanos walked it off in the bottom of the 10th on a solo home run.

Reliever Angel Torres, who struck out seven in five innings was tagged with the loss. He came in place of starter Jake Palomo, who gave up nine hits and fanned three in four innings of work.

Feralio’s home run was one of his three hits on the day, and he drove in two runs.

Mason Kostka knocked in four runs for Vermilion and freshman outfielder Jake Casazza had a two-run single in the top of the second.

Vermilion’s Jesus Trejo added two hits and scored two runs while Franklin Wildes also scored twice.

The loss sent Vermilion into the elimination round.

Despite injures to two starting outfielders - Cameron  Peterson and Casazza - freshman pitcher DeSoto Hood kept Vermilion in the game.

Hood dueled with the Legends’ Jalen Vorpahl.

While Vermilion outhit Alexandria 6-5, the Legends scratched out single runs against Hood in the first, fourth and eighth innings.

Vermilion stranded two runners in the top of the eighth and had a potential ninth-inning rally snuffed out by a running catch at the centerfield fence.

Nobody had more than one hit for Vermilion, and Hood went the distance allowing two earned runs with seven strikeouts.  He finished the season with a 4-4 record on the mound.

The final four teams in the regional - Rochester, Alexandria, Century and St. Cloud - are playing down this weekend for a berth in the JUCO World Series while Vermilion is turning to 2024, when 13 players will return.

“It was a great season and these guys created a lot of memories for themselves,” said Coombe. “Not only by winning two games on the last day to get into the regional, but the time they spent working together all season long. They began last August with the goal of getting to St. Cloud and they accomplished that through a lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication.  I’m very proud of these guys and excited about the future of Vermilion baseball.”

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