Grunenwald is First at first
Red-shirt senior Alex Grunenwald capped off a stellar two-year span at the U. of Illinois at Chicago with a First Team selection to the Horizon League All-Conference squad for his play at first base.
Grunenwald paced the Flames in home runs (8) and RBI (43), while hitting .243, slugging .441 and offering a .320 OBP.
He also led the league in put-outs with 518, and committed just five errors, for a fourth-best fielding percentage of .991.
“Alex is a guy you always want on the field,” head coach Mike Dee said. “He has tremendous toughness and he’s a great defensive player. I’m happy that he has been honored as the best at his position.”
The Merrill native is a two-time 2013 Horizon League Batter of the Week, earning the award twice in a three-week span. Grunenwald-who joined the UIC Flames in 2012 after transferring from Chandler-Gilbert in Arizona-was named to the All-Newcomer Team, All-League Second Team and the Horizon League All-Tournament squad last season.
He is the son of Merrill’s Bob and Janet Grunenwald and is their third son-along with Chris and Nick-to play Division 1 sports. He has also been named to the All-Academic Horizon League Team the past two years.
UIC ended a 27-28 season with a 5-4 loss to Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament on May 24. Grunenwald hit .417 in the tourney.
“Our energy all weekend was outstanding and we kept competing,” said Dee. “It’s tough when you lose a pair of one-run ball games, but that’s baseball. I’m really proud of our guys and how they improved over the year. Our seniors did a tremendous job leading and I have no complaints about the effort given in this tournament.”
Grunenwald was a former MHS and American Legion Post 46 standout.