The experience could hardly have been sweeter for Merrill’s Ty Grunenwald when he participated in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Ass’n. Senior Classic, held June 27-28 at E.J. Schneider Field at UW-Oshkosh.
Grunenwald drove in the first run of the tourney for his West squad, and after several strong innings in the middle he earned the save in a rare pitching performance in the third game that gave the West the title of the event.
“It was fun,” Grunenwald said. “It was just kind of a reward for what we’ve achieved.
“It was nice to play in something that was a little more relaxed. The guys were more laid-back. It was nice to play with some different guys. I’ve played against (Marshfield’s Daulton) Varsho, and (Point’s Cal) Giese, but it was nice to be on a team with them and see what they guys are about instead of playing against them.”
MHS coach Brian Artac noted it was an honor for Grunenwald to play in the game.
“This was the top 72 seniors in the state,” he said. “Excellent baseball was played.”
The West captured the opener on the first no-hitter in Classic history from Eau Claire Memorial’s Dalton Roach (4 innings) and Holman’s Greg Rooney (3 I). The left-batting Grunenwald drove in the first run in the first-inning burst, and scored the last in the 3-0 victory a short time later.
“They beat the East Friday night where Gruny got a hit in his first at-bat, a line shot to right to drive in the West’s first run of three that inning.” MHS coach Brian Artac said.
In the second game, a 7-4 victory over the North, Grunenwald did more than just rip an RBI triple.
“Gruny flashed his glove making three web gems, one where he was all the way behind the bag towards the second baseman and did a spin-a-roni to throw to first in time!” Artac exclaimed.
Grunenwald also was robbed of a hit on a hot come-backer to the mound.
In the finale, Grunenwald manned left field before taking the mound when a sore back kept Point’s Austin Schulfur from taking his turn. The West beat the South 4-2, with all four runs in the third, to wrap up a 3-0 record.
“So Gruny got the call after four innings (the limit) from (Cal) Giese from Stevens Point, and an inning from the Holmen kid who maxed his innings,” Artac said. “He had a three up, three down sixth and walked the lead off man in the seventh, only to get two fly outs before a South hitter hit a double over the centerfielder’s head for a run. Gruny got the last guy on a ground ball to short to earn the save and help the West team get the win and the Classic. What a day for him!”
Middleton’s Kasay Miller just beat the throw with a head-first slide at the plate to score.
Giese was named Classic Tournament MVP.
Gruenewlad hopes to repeat the fun of the experience in the American Legion All-Star contest at Miller Park in August.
Grunenwald plans to attend Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Ariz. The school is known for its high-quality baseball team. Ty’s brother Alex started his collegiate career at the school, later transferring to the University of Chicago.