VIRGINIA — Mesabi Range College will get its baseball season off to an early start after lining up a doubleheader March 15 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Norsemen will now open the regular season four days earlier than planned with the twin bill against Century College. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
“It’s something fun for the kids,’’ head coach Chris Vito said, since nobody can take a spring trip due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “We’re really excited about it. It will be a nice way to start our season.’’
Last month there had been some talk about some possible openings at US Bank stadium. With that in mind, Vito contacted the Wood Ducks coach about moving their April 14 doubleheader in White Bear Lake to US Bank. Everything fell into place and the games were moved up nearly one month.
Vito said his players “were thrilled’’ to hear the news after weeks of practice indoors in the MRC gymnasium. “They are just excited to get out and play a little sooner than we anticipated. We weren't able to do the spring trip this year for obvious reasons.’’
The Norsemen were also able to play at US Bank in his first year back at Mesabi back in 2017. At the time, they played St. Cloud Tech in a 6 a.m. matchup.
“It reminded me of the Metrodome in many ways because the layout was similar.’’ Since then the facility has hosted a lot of Division I baseball games with the University of Minnesota and “it’s worked out fairly well,’’ Vito added.
The Norsemen will face some challenges at the field, including looking into the ceiling trying to get a read on baseballs, he added. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us’’ in the first two games of the year.
After the season-opening doubleheader, Mesabi Range will play four games against the St. John’s JV squad in Collegeville, Minn., on March 19-20. The Norse will follow that up with a pair of games against Vermilion Community College at the Mesabi East turf field in Aurora on March 23.