VU baseball season ends after pair of tough losses in Region tournament


NORMAL, Ill. – The Vincennes University baseball season came to an abrupt end Friday evening as the Trailblazers fell in their two games to start the 2024 NJCAA Division II Region 24 Pod A Tournament hosted by Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill.

The Blazers fell to host and defending National Champion Heartland C.C. 10-9 on a walk-off sac fly, before falling to Spoon River 11-8 in the very next game.

VU got off to a great start to the day in game one against Heartland Community College, opening up the scoring in the fourth with four big runs.

Vincennes got the rally going with a double by sophomore Blake Heyerly (Monroe, Ind.), followed by three straight singles by sophomore Trevor Newman (Fort Wayne, Ind.), freshman Nate Montgomery (Lexington, Ind.) and sophomore Kade Hinton (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Montgomery’s and Hinton’s singles driving in runs.

VU would add on with a run scoring groundout put in play by redshirt freshman Holden Clifton (Louisville, Ill.) before capping off the inning with an RBI double by sophomore Jace Parnin (Fort Wayne, Ind.) to put the Blazers on top 4-0.

Heartland immediately answered back on the home turf, scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning to take their first lead of the game at 5-4.

The Trailblazers would get back on top in the sixth with the help of three straight doubles by Hinton, Clifton and Parnin and an RBI single by sophomore Carter Whitehead (Huntingburg, Ind.) to regain the lead for VU at 7-5.

Vincennes would tack on two more runs in the seventh after a leadoff double by freshman Bradyn Douglas (Frankton, Ind.) and Blake Heyerly being hit by pitch for the second time in the game.

Douglas would come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nate Montgomery, while Heyerly would be driven in on an RBI single by Kade Hinton to put the Blazers ahead 9-5.

Heartland again struck back with a big inning of their own in the bottom of the seventh, rallying back to even the score at 9-9 heading into the late innings of the game.

VU continued to battle, including getting a leadoff double by Blake Heyerly in the ninth, his fifth time reaching base safely in the game, but the Blazers were unable to capitalize and retake the lead.

Heartland found a way in the end, coming away with the game one victory in walk-off fashion with a sacrifice fly to give the Hawks the 10-9 victory and send the Blazers immediately into an elimination game against Spoon River College.

Sophomore Max Lines (Indianapolis, Ind.) got the start for the Blazers in game one and did his job, pitching two shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out one.

Freshman Bryce Gross (Bridgeport, Ill.) gave the Blazers some big momentum innings in the middle of the game, going two and two-thirds innings without allowing a hit and striking out two.

Sophomore Josh McCormick (Indianapolis, Ind.) was called on to get the Blazers out of a jam in the seventh and held on to pitch the final two and two-thirds innings of the game, allowing one run on four hits and striking out three.