The Magrath Zeniths jumped out to an early lead on Cardston High School and captured a 16-4 victory last Thursday in Magrath, and a dual-threat Monday evening carried them past Picture Butte.
Last week the Zeniths captured 15 runs in the first three innings. Tyson Gruninger, Derek Strate and Zach Dick each had an RBI and two-run singles were scored by Brandon Clukey and Matt Noad in the first inning.
Tyson Gruninger looked sharp on the mound. Cardston High School managed just one hit off of Zeniths’ pitcher Gruninger, who allowed one earned run, walked none and struck out six during his three innings of work.
Kendan Dewayne was the game’s losing pitcher. He allowed 15 runs in three innings, walked four and struck out four.
“(I would say the strongest players were) Matt Noad, Zach Dick and Derek Strate on Thursday and Tyson Gruninger, Tate Stringam and Derek Strate on Monday,” said coach Jordan Brame. “The boys are improving every day. I love watching the success that some of the more inexperienced guys are having, and I love seeing our veteran guys have good games.”
Zeniths survived Cardston High School’s slight surge and put up six runs of its own in the third. They also scored an RBI, courtesy of Gruninger, a two-run double by Strate, and an RBI from Tate Stringam in the third.
A game like the one against Cardston was fun for the Zeniths because in addition to the normal production from Grade 12’s Matt Noad, Brandon Clukey, Tyson Gruninger, Derek Strate and Zach Dick, good things were also seen from the younger players. Strong plate appearances were made by Tyson Bourne and Stringam.
Then on Monday the Zeniths pulled off a 17 to five win against Picture Butte High School, both behind the plate and behind the arm of Gruninger.
Not only did Gruninger rack up six RBIs on three hits for the Zeniths he also doubled int he first inning, and both homered and singled in the second inning. PBHS managed just one hit off the Zeniths pitcher, who allowed no earned runs, walked none and struck out six during only two innings of work.
However the biggest inning for the team was the second. PBHS couldn’t do anything as the Zeniths scored 10 runs. The Zeniths continued to pound PBHS in pitching, as six hitters combined for 11 hits, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
The lead was cemented in the first inning however, when four runs and two home-runs were scored by Strate.
“Both games were fairly similar in the score and outcome, Monday we had a few kids have really break out performances, Derek Strate had a home run, Tyson Gruninger got a grand slam and Tate Stringam was three for three,” said Brame. “On Thursday, it was a real team effort. We only had one guy that didn’t get a hit. As a team we are getting to be a very dangerous hitting line up. At the beginning of the season, we really relied on our top five to produce, but we are getting consistent performance from the bottom of the order that makes us a very hard team to beat.”
Although the team’s biggest issue at this point is being able to handle slower pitching at the top of the order, as many players get over-eager and try to do “too much,” they also need to work on handling the bottom order, as they have a “hard time catching up with speed.”
The Zeniths, who moved their overall record up to 7 and 0, play next Tuesday in Claresholm and then prepare for provincials on May 31.