July 14th, 2024

Runge relishing early leverage opportunities

By JAMES TUBB on June 20, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Mavericks pitcher Dylan Runge leans in to get the sign from his catcher during his outing in the Mavs' 13-12 walkoff win Saturday at Athletic Park over the Moose Jaw Miller Express.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

Dylan Runge has been working in a new role in his young time with the Medicine Hat Mavericks.

The Richland, Wash., product was a starting pitcher at Blue Mountain Community College and has shifted to the bullpen in the Hat. It’s a role he’s flourished in early and enjoyed.

“The adrenaline you get from closing, especially with these games here and the guys, there’s nothing like it, it’s so much fun,” Runge said.

Runge has been utilized in five games by the Mavs, working a 2.91 ERA in 12.1 innings with 12 strikeouts. He’s worked in both the Mavs’ extra-inning games, picking up a win with a pair of three-inning outings. He’s found no pressure with the addition of the WCBL’s extra-inning runner rule that places a runner at second place to start extra frames.

“It’s not a big deal to me, it is what it is, he’s not going to score,” Runge said. “That’s my only mentality.”

He pitched the last three frames of the 7-6, 13-inning win over the Brooks Bombers on June 7 and worked the final three innings of the Mavs’ 13-12 comeback win in the 10th inning over the Moose Jaw Miller Express on June 15.

Against Moose Jaw, Runge says it was the craziest game he had been part of and he wanted to do his job to allow his teammates the chance to win it. He credits his them for the energy he has on the mound and says their encouragement helps keep him going, while also staying grounded in those moments.

“My slider felt really good, so I just kept going with what was working,” Runge said. “My fastball was, also, so I felt really good out there. The guys always really pick me up.

“The team is really good about the energy and I love that. When my team is hyped up, that hypes me up on the mound, so to come back and then have the energy going our way, that just made me go forward.”

When he’s on the mound in the high leverage moments, with the game on the line and his teammates screaming in the dugout, Runge says he reminds himself to breath as a way to not get too excited.

“That’s been a big struggle for me before, so I’ve kind of figured it out now,” Runge said. “It’s just trusting myself. I mean, I’m here for a reason. So I just have to tell myself that and know that they’re not better than me and I just have to do what I gotta do.”

That self belief and determination was on full display in Saturday’s win, with Runge limiting the Miller Express to one stranded runner in the last three innings of the game. He didn’t allow a hit, and the lone walk he surrendered was out in a double play.

The one base runner left on base, the 10th inning runner moved up to third base but went no further.

“He’s got a great demeanour about him,” head coach Kevin Mitchell said after the win. “The moment never seems to be too big. He just goes out there and does his job and he’s also a pretty damn good pitcher. So that helps, too, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Runge and the Mavs lost 11-3 Tuesday night at Weyburn to the Beavers. Marshall Burke had two hits and two runs scored in the loss.

The Mavs were at Moose Jaw taking on the Miller Express on Wednesday. That game was not complete by press time, visit medicinehatnews.com/sports for a full game story. They’ll remain in Moose Jaw on Thursday for a rematch before returning to Athletic Park on Friday to host the Swift Current 57’s.

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