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ALL-EASTERN CLOVERBELT BASEBALL - Gilman’s Grunseth a 2nd-team pick; Syryczuk, Nichols get mention

Gilman’s Grunseth a 2nd-team pick; Syryczuk, Nichols get mention
Dawson Grunseth Second Team
Gilman’s Grunseth a 2nd-team pick; Syryczuk, Nichols get mention
Dawson Grunseth Second Team


As the Gilman Pirates continue to work toward improving their program, three of the players they’re looking to for leadership going forward earned recognition in the voting for the 2024 All-Eastern Cloverbelt Conference baseball team.

Sophomore Dawson Grunseth earned the highest honor, landing on the 10-man second team. Junior Joey Syryczuk and freshman Connor Nichols got honorable mention from the conference’s coaches.

The awards follow a 4-13 season that included a 3-7 mark in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference, good for fifth place in the sixteam league. Under first-year head coach Derek Nichols, Gilman got one more overall win and one more league win than it did a year ago.

A young squad that graduated just three seniors at season’s end –– Dalton Wisocky, Adam Draeger and Troy Duellman –– this was Gilman’s second season back in varsity play after having a JV season in 2022 and a combined Covid season with Thorp in 2021.

After a strong finish to his freshman season, Grunseth took the reins as Gilman’s top pitcher this spring. The left-hander pitched in 11 games, starting 10. He had a 1-5 overall record. In 37.2 innings, he posted a 5.78 earned run average, striking out 42, walking 36 and allowing 57 hits and 61 runs, 43 of which were earned.

Grunseth’s win came in the Pirates’ 7-4 conference win over Spencer on April 16, when he threw five innings and held the Rockets to five hits and three earned runs while striking out four and walking three.

Twice he struck out 10 batters in a game. The first was in the April 26 rematch at Spencer, a 6-5 nine-inning loss, where he pitched 4.2 innings and allowed just four hits and two runs, one of which was earned. The other 10-K game was in Gilman’s 10-3 non-conference loss to Prentice on May 17 when the Bucs scored eight runs in the top of the seventh. Grunseth went 6.1 innings and allowed four hits and three runs, two earned, while walking four.

Grunseth also pitched well against conference champion Columbus Catholic on April 30 in a 7-3 loss. He went five innings in that game, allowing four hits and striking out five. None of the five runs charged to him that day were earned.

At the plate, Grunseth led Gilman with a .410 batting average (16 for 39). He hit one triple and had 11 runs batted in. He had three multi-hit games, including three hits in the nine-inning loss at Spencer, when he got his triple. He had two hits in a 17-6 win at Greenwood May 3 and two hits with the lone RBI in a 12-1 home loss to Columbus Catholic on May 8.

Syryczuk did well as Gilman’s top catcher this season. He posted a .941 fielding percentage with six errors in 101 total chances. He caught four would-be base stealers and was part of two double plays.

He also was one of the Pirates’ top offensive threats. He hit .404 (19 for 47) with three doubles, nine runs scored and nine runs driven in. He drew four walks and only struck out six times in 55 plate appearances.

Syryczuk had seven multi-hit games in 2024, including a three-for-four game in the April 30 loss at Columbus. He drove in a run in that loss. He had two hits in both ends of a doubleheader loss at Loyal on April 23, two hits in the home loss to Columbus and two hits and two RBIs in a 14-6 home win over Greenwood on May 10. He was two for two with a double and two RBIs in the Prentice loss and was two for four with a double in Gilman’s 4-3, eight-inning non-conference win over New Auburn on April 12.

Nichols took over for Gilman at third base this spring and posted an .885 fielding percentage with six errors in 52 total chances at the hot corner. At the plate, Nichols hit a solid .333 in his first varsity season (15 for 45) with four of those hits being doubles. He scored a team-high 12 runs with six runs batted in.

Nichols was three for three with an RBI in the win over Spencer and was three for four with three RBIs during the rematch with the Rockets. In the May 3 win at Greenwood, he was three for four with two doubles, three runs scored and one driven in. Nichols hit two doubles and drove in a run in the win over New Auburn.

Nichols settled in to the number-two spot in Gilman’s batting order in the second half of the season.

As the champs, Columbus Catholic dominated the All-ECC vote with three first-team and four second-team selections. The Dons’ first-teamers are seniors Emmitt Konieczny and Cy Becker and sophomore Mac Konieczny. Neillsville-Granton, the league’s runner-up with a 7-3 conference record, also got three firstteam spots with seniors Bryce Erickson, Micah Zoschke and Reese McDonald.

Erickson and Emmitt Konieczny are the conference’s co-Players of the Year.

Spencer juniors Reed Knecht and Tyler Peterson and junior Tryn Scheel and sophomore Cain Toufar of Loyal fill out the first team. Knecht was the 2023 Player of the Year. Emmitt Konieczny, Becker, McDonald and Erickson also are repeat first-team choices.

Columbus Catholic and Neillsville-Granton got the farthest of the conference teams in WIAA post-season play. Columbus Catholic lost 2-1 to eventual sectional champion Eleva-Strum in its Division 4 regional final. Neillsville-Granton lost its Division 3 regional final 13-3 at Elk Mound.

Joey Syryczuk Hon. Mention

Connor Nichols Hon. Mention