Energetic Grundy Center baseball slams Rebels

Grundy Center's Dayne Zinkula fires a pitch to the plate during a game with Gladbrook-Reinbeck last Wednesday. The Spartans won 11-1. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder
GRUNDY CENTER – When Dayne Zinkula can feel the energy from the Grundy Center baseball team in the dugout, good things are sure to follow.

And there’s nothing more energizing than a big win against a nearby rival, like the 11-1 win in five innings against Gladbrook-Reinbeck last Wednesday, June 9 at the Wilhelm Sports Complex.

The Spartans improved to 4-1 overall with the win; G-R dropped to 4-5.

Sloan Klar was 2-for-2 with four runs batted in and Patrick Brown III was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI, including the final blow in the fifth inning. Brayden Sawyer added three hits, two RBI and scored four runs.

Grundy Center coach Pat Brown Jr. said the day before Wednesday’s game was spent practicing offense in hopes of raising the team’s batting average above .300.

“We want to be around .330, and then we can just keep setting the bar higher and higher,” Brown Jr. said. “The kids got to realize that when you put the ball in play, good things happen. Once we’re on base, we try to be as aggressive as we can on the base paths, and we just go from there.”

As of June 16, Grundy Center’s team batting average is .327.

In the game with Gladbrook-Reinbeck, the Spartans hit .500 with 11 runs on 11 hits.

The Spartans started quick with three runs in the first and second innings and kept the pedal to the metal with four runs in the third.

The early lead gave Spartan starter Dayne Zinkula a lot of cushion to work with, holding G-R to one earned run on three hits. Zinkula, a junior, struck out three with one hit batter.

“First-pitch fastball has really helped me so far,” Zinkula said. “That and the curveball has really been what’s helped me so far this year.”

The Spartan rotation has been solid thus far with a team ERA of 1.44 and opponents averaging just .227 off the group. Brayden Sawyer, the Grundy ace, has struck out 29 in 25 and one-third innings with a 2-1 record and 1.11 ERA.

So far this season, the Spartans’ two losses have both been one-run differentials against South Hardin (4-3) and AGWSR (5-4).

“The pitching is remarkable,” Brown Jr. said. “We’ve just got to realize that for all of our pitchers, we’ve got to score runs.”

G-R’s Caleb Egesdal knocked in the lone run for the Rebels in the fourth inning.

“They’re just playing way better than we did,” G-R head coach Scott Kiburis said. “We always get better as the season goes on, so next time around we see these [NICL West] teams, we’ll hopefully be giving them more of a competition.”
G-R plays one of the busier schedules of area teams, already with 13 games under their belt as of games played through June 15.
“We want to get six games a week,” Kiburis said. “We’re doing our best right now, it’s difficult with the lack of umpires. … We want to play as much as possible and take advantage of a very short period of time here playing baseball. And the kids like playing baseball, so we want to make sure we get kids in there pitching, learning how to play different positions, and maximize each season that we get.”
The Spartans were scheduled to play BCLUW on Wednesday, June 16 and get a rematch at home against South Hardin on Friday, followed by a nooner in Grundy with South Hamilton on Saturday.
“Every time we’ve had a lot of energy, we’ve been winning,” Zinkula said. “As long as we keep up that energy, we seem to keep winning, so it’s been a lot of fun.”


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