Photo by Bill Roseberry
Twin City’s Blake Marks, an upcoming senior at East Alton-Wood River High School, fires a ball from third to first on Tuesday at Glik Park in Highland. Marks is a key contributor on the 11-1 team that features players from EA-WR, Roxana, Southwestern and Civic Memorial.
Manager Dave Ufert can’t complain about the torrid start of his Twin City baseball squad.
Twin City gets its name from the unity of Roxana and East Alton-Wood River baseball players. Throw in some Southwestern and Civic Memorial flavor and the independent baseball team is a force to be reckoned with. They have raced out to a 11-1 start this summer, including an impressive 5-2 win Tuesday over Highland American Legion Post 439.
“We’re 11-1 right now and we won the Trenton Round Robin Tournament,” Ufert said. “We finished second in the New Baden Tournament, losing the championship game 1-0 in 10 innings.
“We’ve got a good mix of kids. We’ve got kids from Roxana, three from Wood River, three from Southwestern and one from Bethalto and most of these boys have played on the same team or against each other, so they all know each other real well. They’ve gelled real well all season. We’re all there for the same thing — to win ball games.”
Twin City plays an independent schedule, but is sponsored by South Roxana American Legion Post 1167. Home games are played at Roxana High School.
“With us not being in the district, it gave us a little more leeway to play whoever we wanted,” Ufert said. “When you’re in the district they prefer you play Legion teams, but with us not in we’re able to get games with American National out of St. Louis, which is a big select club. We’re still playing in the legion tournaments that we can, like the Trenton Tournament and the New Baden Tournament, plus we have four other tournaments in the St. Louis area. We play every team in District 22 but one, we’re playing five teams out of District 23, some SLABA teams we play and we actually play a couple Southwest teams. We’re able to get a lot of games against a lot of different teams and competition we don’t normally get to see.”
The lineup includes Roxana products Randy Skiff, Logan Reardon, Tanner Davis, Josh Rudd, Wade McGee, Blake Vandiver, Nelson Martz and Adam Moore; EA-WR players Blake Marks, Blake Weishaupt and Hunter Hall; Southwestern standouts Blake Lawson, Spencer Heineman and Andrew Fry and CM product John Whitworth part time.
Ufert boasts a pitching staff that goes 10 deep, led by Heineman, Reardon and Martz at the top of the heap.
“We’re primarily built around our staff,” Ufert said. “We go how they go. Our team ERA is under 1.50 right now. Nelly (Nelson Martz) pitches in college and is the ace out at Lewis and Clark. Then we’ve got Reardon, who’s going to Lincoln Land on a full ride. He gets up in mid 80s, Nelly’s mid 80s, Heineman hits 80s. (Heineman’s) been the ace at Southwestern the last three years, so we’ve got three aces. Any one of those three will go out and compete and we’ll survive with any of them. We like our chances. You throw Andrew Fry in there; he was 6-0 during the high school season and he’s 2-0 already this season.”
Don’t count out the Twin City bats, either. Their most dramatic showing to this point was their triumph at the Trenton Round Robin Tournament. Trailing 5-0 to Steeleville in the first contest, Post 1167 charged back and then blanked host Trenton 6-0 to win the tournament.
“Against Steeleville we were down 5-0 going into the sixth inning and we couldn’t buy a hit,” Ufert said. “They were hitting balls in the right spots and we just kept battling and telling the kids, ‘We’re never out of this with our lineup; we’ll be fine.’ We snuffed out one run, then going into the last inning we had our 3, 4, 5 hitters coming up ... Blake Lawson led off with a double, Nelly Martz got a base hit, Blake Marks hit a double, Randy had a base hit and the kids on the team just don’t give up, no matter what’s going on. We have a lot of varsity players on our team and these kids know how to win.”
Ufert knows he’s got the bats to complement the pitching.
“There’s not one boy on our roster that doesn’t swing the bat pretty decent,” Ufert said. “Our guys come off the bench and swing the bat pretty good, too.”
Ufert’s staff consists of his brother Troy Ufert, Tyler Bress and Craig Moore.
Playing in district competition last season as a junior legion squad, Twin City won a district title. It was the first time a team from Roxana or EA-WR had secured a district title in over a decade, so success is no stranger to this group.
Ufert expects good baseball to continue.
“I think they’ll keep playing the way they know they can play and keep having fun,” he said. “If we throw strikes and catch the baseball we’ll be just fine. These boys expect a lot of themselves and they know the type of players they’ve got put together here. They have pretty high expectations.”
Twin City plays in the RBI Bonanza Tournament beginning today in St. Peters and finishing on Sunday before playing host to Trenton at 6 p.m. Monday in Roxana.
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