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Weather holds back Ironhawks

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CELEBRATION for the Ironhawks after DeSoto Hood (7) hit a home run during a March 15 doubleheader at Aurora. Teammates Chris Arambula (24) and Kelbee Woodham (13) jumped high in the air as the Ironhawks celebrated Hood’s home run. Photo by Chloe Sullivan

Mother Nature isn’t going away quietly.

The Vermilion Ironhawks’ most formidable early spring opponent reared its head this week, driving temperatures down and a few snow flurries into the air, and forcing the postponement of two community college baseball doubleheaders.

Action this weekend set for Austin, Minn, is also in jeopardy and the weather has stopped the Ironhawks in their tracks after a 5-6 start.

“It’s something we deal with every year, and maybe we got a little spoiled by being able to get outside and play some games up here so early,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “What we’re seeing now is far more typical for us for the end of March, where we’re looking at weather forecasts and checking on fields and seeing if there’s anywhere that we’re able to play.”

Northern Division play doesn’t open until April 6-7 with a four-game set at Northland, but the Ironhawks are hoping to utilize their depth - which includes a roster of 27 players and a deep pitching staff -  and get several doubleheaders in before that.

The Ironhawks head to La Crosse, Wisc., for a four-game series March 29-30, and a non-conference twinbill with Mesabi is tentatively set for Monday, April 1 at Aurora.

Vermilion is hitting a lofty .329 at the plate and has used more than a dozen pitchers so far this spring.

One of those hurlers, sophomore Marcus Haire of San Antonio, Tex., was named Northern Division Pitcher of the Week after leading the Ironhawks to an 11-1, opening-game win over  Hibbing in a March 19 game at Aurora.

Haire went all five innings, gave up three hits while striking out seven, and picked up his second win of the spring.

“We’ve utilized a lot of pitchers so far, but Marcus has been one of our most consistent,” said Coombe. “He has a tremendous amount of poise on the mound and doesn’t get rattled.  He exudes confidence.”

Haire is 2-1 with a 2.17 earned run average in 17 innings of work so far.

Two of Vermilion’s hottest hitters - Chris Arambula and DeSoto Hood - hit home runs in the opening game win over Hibbing.

Arambula’s two-run shot gave Vermillion an 11-1 lead, and the freshman from Wray, Col., went two-for-two in the game with three runs scored while raising his batting average to a sizzling .593.

Hood is batting .375 with two home runs and eight runs batted in, while sophomore catcher Kelbee Woodham knocked in two runs to give himself 15 RBI for the spring, tops in the Northern Division.  Woodham is also batting over .400.

Sophomore Mason Kostka, an all-region infielder a year ago, went four-for-four in the opening game and now has 12 RBI for the season.

Another sophomore, Franklin Wildes, added a couple hits to lift his batting average to .473.

Vermilion fell 6-5 in the nightcap against Hibbing, as a hit batter with the bases loaded and two outs pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the sixth.

Hibbing lefty Owen Hindermann, a Duluth Denfeld graduate, went the distance against the Ironhawks and scattered seven hits with 10 strikeouts.

Hood had a run-scoring double for Vermilion, while reliever Xavier Ibarra took the loss.

Vermilion started freshman Jerron Turney, with Parker Coach also working in relief.

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