We came into the season with one goal in mind, a region championship —Hunter head coach Quade Dunyon
WEST VALLEY CITY — Ten days. That was the amount of prep time Hunter head coach Quinn Downard and his Wolverines had ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s Region 2 battle with the Cyprus Pirates.
If their performance at Hunter High School was any indication, Downard may try to schedule 10 days between every game from here on out.
Led by their ace, Quade Dunyon, who pitched five scoreless innings, Hunter handily defeated Cyprus 10-0 to open region play.
“We had 10 days off,” said Downard. “This was a big jump for us right here.”
The key to the victory, despite the scoring explosion (Tuesday marked the first time all season Hunter scored in double digits) was Dunyon.
The senior was lights out on the mound most of the afternoon, striking out four Pirates in the process.
When he did struggle, as was the case in the top of the fifth inning when he walked Cyprus’ Dylan Herzog and Carter Imhoff and gave up a single to Tyken Wren, loading the bases, he inevitably found a way to work out of it.
“He dialed himself in and stayed on top of the game,” Downard said. “I liked the way, when he got in trouble, that he worked out of it. He definitely showed why he is our No. 1 today.”
Dunyon got help from the defense as his teammates recorded 11 of the game's 15 outs, but according to Downard that was to be expected.
“Since he was a sophomore, our team has always played better behind him.”
While Dunyon excelled on the mound, his teammates provided him more than enough run support for the victory.
Jake Hancock led the way with a 2-for-2 performance that included an RBI triple to the opposite field, a two-run double and a base-on-balls.
“Jake struggled in St. George (the Wolverines traveled south for the Panther-Tiger Classic in early March), but since we got back here, he is hitting over .500,” said Downard. “He is just locked in. It is a good feeling.”
Fellow senior Jaxon Slack was no less impressive, as he also finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs.
Slack and Hancock were both an integral part of a four-run third inning by the Wolverines that broke the game wide open.
Hunter Newland led things off with a single, and was immediately followed by Gavin Carlson, who ripped a double down the third base line. After Slack drove home Newland, Angel Guevara reached safely on a Cyprus error.
An RBI ground-out by Brakken Knorr scored Carlson and set the stage for Hancock’s game-changing triple.
The Wolverines added an additional two runs in the fourth inning, thanks to a single by Slack, and three more in the fifth, thanks to an RBI double by Dunyon and a sacrifice fly courtesy of Alex Villarreal.
“We focused on the fastball a lot more today. We know a lot of teams utilize the fastball,” said Downard. “We knew they were going to try to throw the fastball and get ahead of us early and we just worked on fastballs and not falling behind.”
With the victory, Hunter improves to 5-4 on the season and 1-0 in region play. Cyprus, meanwhile, falls to 8-3 overall and 3-1 in Region 2.
The win is just the beginning for the Wolverines, or at least that is what Downard and his team hope.
“We came into the season with one goal in mind, a region championship,” said Downard. “The kids want to make their name (this season), so this is a good stepping stone for us.
“That being said, it is just one game out of 16, which means absolutely nothing. We have 15 more to go.”