Tim Funkhouser was thrilled to see 19 players sign up for his Edwardsville baseball team this summer.
“We have a lot of guys who enjoy baseball and look forward to getting better each day,” the Edwardsville coach said.
Out of the 19 players, 12 will be seniors this year: Zachary Modrusic, Ike Bertels, Tyler Lewis, Daniel Picchiotti, Andrew Frank, Jacob DeBouck, Isaac Garrett, Zach Seavers, Daniel Reed, Andrew Yancik, Will Messer and Joel Mueller.
Yancik, Picchiotti, Frank, Lewis and Messer got plenty of varsity time for the Tigers this spring. Messer was one of Edwardsville’s top hitters with a .419 batting average, and Frank won four games on the mound.
Funkhouser has high hopes for Frank.
“He’s a 6-3 right-hander who has good stuff,” he said. “His ball really moves, so it’s fun to watch to him pitch.”
Other players include Josh Volkmar, Caleb Blakemore, Alec Mills, Chase Gockel, Cole Hampton and Blake Burris.
The Tigers began their season on June 7 with an 11-1 win over Belleville East. Then, they lost all four games in the Decatur Commodores 18U round robin tournament.
Edwardsville also lost 9-0 to O’Fallon on June 14.
At the Decatur Tournament, Edwardsville lost to Team Mizuno of Champaign 5-4, the Decatur Commodores 9-1, BNBA (Bloomington-Normal Baseball Association) 12-4 and the Central Illinois Outlaws 11-2.
Edwardsville finished 2-2 in the Mid-American 18U Super 16 tournament over the weekend. The Tigers are now 3-7 overall.
“Our goal is to be able to get somewhere around 30 games in and get some work in between the games,” Funkhouser said. “We knew that (at the Decatur Tournament) was going to be a tougher weekend from that standpoint. We could have won two of the games. We lost a 5-4 game in the last inning. They won on a walk-off. The first game on Sunday (against BNBA), we were down 5-4 in the fifth inning and the wheels kind of came off where we gave up seven runs. So they secured their lead that way.”
Funkhouser said despite the slow start, he’s confident his team will bounce back.
“It will be a fun summer,” he said. “Every summer is a little different and the guys get to experience some different leadership possibilities and some different positions and we’ll move some guys around. If you come out to a midweek game, you’ll probably think we’re a little crazy because I might bat 11-12 guys, change positions every two innings and it will be hard to keep track of it. Last week, we played nine innings, we threw nine pitchers, so we threw one guy per inning.”
The Tigers play midweek games every Tuesday. The games against Belleville East and O’Fallon were midweek contests.
“The primary focus of the midweek games is getting work in before the game,” Funkhouser said. “As we head to the game, we get our pitchers who didn’t throw as much over the weekend some innings. And if they did, we’ll just rest them to get them primed for the weekend. You’ll see a lot of different things that you might not see in a regular spring game. On the weekends, we like to have fun and be as competitive as we can, but our guys look forward to getting better each day.”
The Tigers’ summer baseball team is playing in its eighth season.
“We have more players who play outside of the program than we have in the past,” Funkhouser said. “We give our players from the spring a chance to play where they want in the summer and we try to make it a good fit for our players to have an opportunity to compete and try to improve and get better. We don’t have all our guys that we had during the spring that are returning, but we have several of them.”
The Tigers will compete in the Mid-America 18U Showcase Series from June 30-July 3. Games will be played at Saint Louis University and Edwardsville High.
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