GRANITE CITY — It's no secret what drives Twin City on the baseball diamond — it's pitching.
On Monday at Babe Champion Field in Granite City, the independent American Legion baseball team received a combined shutout from Spencer Heineman and Logan Reardon to defeat the Granite City SLABA team 7-0.
With the win Twin City improved to 19-2. Granite City slipped to 3-7 with the loss. Rain has kept both teams off the field for awhile and they were just happy to be back at it.
“The pitching was better than our hitting today,” Twin City manager Dave Ufert said. “It's been eight days since we've played anything. Overall we played pretty well. We took some bad cuts, pitches we shouldn't have been swinging at, but it will come. We've been off for eight days so we're not worried about that. The pitching was solid as usual. Our pitching has been solid all summer.”
Granite City manager Scott Smallie added, “He said they hadn't played for awhile, we hadn't played for awhile and it was just nice to get back out on the field and play.”
It was Heineman and Reardon stealing the show. The tandem held the Warriors to just two hits in the game. Heineman got the start and worked four innings, surrendering one hit and fanning seven while walking none. Reardon entered for the final three frames, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out three.
“We're comfortable with putting anybody we've got out there and those two have been on all year,” Ufert said. “They've been going one and two for us and neither have lost a game this year. They came out and threw strikes and got ahead of hitters.”
Smallie agreed, pointing to the amount of walks the Warriors surrendered compared to Twin City. Granite City's Trent Jones walked one in three innings, but reliever Clay Caldwell divvied out five free passes in four innings of relief. South Roxana Post 1167 took advantage by swiping nine bags in the game.
“They got ahead and buried us pretty good,” Smallie said. “They didn't really walk anybody and we walked people and they steal and they score runs off of it. It's high school baseball, summer baseball, get the leadoff hitter on, get them over and get one hit and score two runs. They were a good team.”
Twin City leadoff hitter Blake Vandiver worked as the catalyst in the first, leading off with a single. He then stole second and scored on a one-out single by Blake Lawson to put Post 1167 up 1-0.
Lawson moved to second on a Granite City error on a pickoff attempt, to third on a wild pitch and Heineman helped himself out driving Lawson in with a two-out single to put Twin City up 2-0 after one half inning.
That's the way it stayed until the fourth. Nelson Martz drew a one-out walk, stole second then Reardon walked and a double steal put them on second and third before a wild pitch allowed Martz to score and Reardon to motor to third. Josh Rudd then lofted a sacrifice fly to plate Reardon and make it 4-0.
Twin City tacked on two more in the fifth, highlighted by a Lawson sac fly. Post 1167 plated one more run in the seventh also.
Altogether Twin City picked up seven runs on seven hits.
Granite City got its two hits from Blake Murphy in the third and Jake Freirvogel in the seventh.
Smallie said its good experience for his Warriors, who will all return next season to comprise the high school program. Twin City owned some experience in age, playing six guys who have graduated from high school already on Monday.
“It's good experience because high school-wise we play a tough schedule, so we get out in the summer and say, 'Hey, this is what we work for,'” Smallie said. “We see what we need to work on for the offseason. That's a good program and it gives our kids an opportunity to see what we have going forward and how we can compete and take that step to the next level.”
Ufert has been ecstatic with the success of his team, which has two losses, both in extra innings and in tournament finals.
“We thought we'd be good, but 19-2 is a pretty impressive record,” Ufert said. “We've lost two games by a total of two runs in extra innings in two tournament championships. We knew we'd be good, but I think we're playing above where everybody thought we'd be. We're having a solid year.”
TWIN CITY 7, GRANITE CITY 0
TWIN CITY 200 220 1 — 7 7 0
GRANITE CITY 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
TWIN CITY (19-2) — Blake Vandiver 1-3 BB SB, Randy Skiff 0-3 BB SB, Blake Lawson 2-3 SAC 2 RBIs, Blake Marks 1-4 SB, Spencer Heineman 1-2 RBI, Tanner Davis 1-2, Nelson Martz 1-3 BB 4 SBs, Logan Reardon 1-1 2B 3 BBs 2 SBs, Josh Rudd 0-3 SAC RBI, Blake Weishaupt 0-2 HBP.
WP — Heineman 4.0IP 1H 0R 0ER 0BB 7K
Reardon 3.0IP 1H 0R 0ER 1BB 3K
GRANITE CITY (3-7) — Jake Freirvogel 1-3, Blake Murphy 1-2, Jacob Greyson 0-1 BB.
LP — Trent Jones 3.0IP 4H 2R 2ER 1BB 3K
Clay Caldwell 4.0IP 4H 5R 4ER 5BB 0K