Saturday, June 12, 2021
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Twins trying to hit stride as season heats up

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | June 8, 2021 8:26 PM

The Glacier Twins figured on another very solid American Legion baseball season, and as they head into today’s doubleheader with the Bitterroot Bucs, well, 17-7 ain’t too bad.

“The surprise for me is how we’ve been hitting,” said longtime coach Kevin Slaybaugh. “We’re hitting .322 as a team (through 22 games), and that’s pretty good. We have a .447 on-base percentage. Those have been pleasant surprises.”

A doubleheader split with 4-10 Libby Sunday lowered that average some, but the top of the Twins lineup remains formidable — and that was before Zach Veneman returned.

Leadoff hitter Mason Peters is hitting .400; No. 2 hitter Stevyn Andrachick is a knock higher, at .411. Jacob Polumbus checks in at .329 and George Robbins is hitting .385.

Then Slaybaugh got to add super senior Veneman, who hit .316 in 25 games at Valley City State (S.D) this spring, after Peters and Andrachick.

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Glacier Twins’ Taylor Bryan connects with a ball for a hit during a game against the Kalispell Lakers A on Wednesday, June 2 at Griffin Field. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)

“Veneman (who’s hitting .366 in nine games) and Polumbus behind them, banging away,” Slaybaugh said. “That’s worked the way it’s supposed to work in baseball, so far.

“The top of the lineup has been about what I’d hoped it’d be and the bottom has been better than maybe I’ve expected.”

The best days could be ahead, and we’re not just talking about 2021: Everybody save Veneman returns in 2022. But right now he’s a big addition.

“Our team is really young,” Slaybaugh said. “When Zach showed up that was much needed leadership and maturity. The guys kind of look up to him.

“That’s not to mention he plays nine positions very well. He’s a dandy.”

Veneman, who threw 12 innings at Valley City State, bolsters an already-solid pitching staff. Polumbus (1.70 earned-run average), who recently threw a 5-inning no-hitter, Robbins (2.44 ERA) and Caleb Meehan (2.77) have been the most consistent starters.

“Taylor Bryan has done a phenomenal job for us in relief,” Slaybaugh added, and that was before Bryan threw five solid innings in Glacier’s near-comeback in a 7-6 loss to Libby.

Losses have come here and there for the Twins, who are coming off the 2020 Western A title, won 6-5 last August over the team that visits today, the Bucs.

“The boys are playing real well,” Slaybaugh said. “We’ve been good on the bases and it’s just been real fun so far.”