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Chad Lorkowski’s success in Little League continues on at G.P. North

By: Tom Markowski, May 18, 2016, 6:42 pm

Grosse Pointe – Chad Lorkowski has shown he’s not just a Little League phenom.

Lorkowski was the team’s top pitcher who carried Grosse Pointe Woods/Shores to the Little League World Series in 2013 and today he’s one of the state’s top freshman pitchers.

Lorkowski, 15, moved into the rotation at Grosse Pointe North after two stellar relief appearances. This past Monday he gave up his first run but still went the distance in a 6-1 victory over Utica Ford in a Macomb Area Conference White Division game. Lorkowski gave up four hits and struck out five.

He has five complete games in as many starts, is 6-0 and pitched 38 innings. Lorkowski has given up 21 hits, struck out 49 and allowed just two walks.

Long time North coach Frank Sumbera said Lorkowski could end up as one of the school’s best. And that’s saying a mouthful. In 1980 Bill Babcock was 13-0 and led North to its first state title (Class A). Babcock was one of the state’s best then and later went on to pitch for Miami (Fla.)

“Look at him,” Sumbera said. “He’s 6-5, throws in the 80s and he just turned 15. His biggest attribute is he’s aggressive. He gets ahead in the count. Against Ford, he just wasn’t sharp. I could tell right away he wasn’t on.”

Quite by accident, Lorkowski has become Sumbera’s Monday starter, and in the competitive MAC that’s impressive for an underclassman. Teams in the MAC play three games against a division foe each week. Normally the games are played on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Most coaches prefer to start the three-game series with their ace.

North senior, and top pitcher to begin the season, Tristin Richardson, experienced tightness in his throwing arm about two weeks into the season leaving Sumbera in a quandary. Should he go with a more experienced pitcher or insert the only freshman on his 24-player squad?

Richardson has since returned to the rotation and was the starting pitcher in Wednesday’s home game against Ford.

“I know the kid is talented,” Sumbera said. “I put him in against (Birmingham) Brother Rice in his first game and he faced six batters, struck out three and didn’t give up a hit. Against Grosse Pointe South I brought him in and, again, he faced six batters, struck out four and got the win.”

Lorkowski’s first start was against Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse. North won 9-0 and Lorkowski allowed three hits and struck out six. He had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings.

The job was his.

Lorkowski doesn’t look like a freshman. He weighs 210 pounds, five fewer than he did he pitched in the Little League World Series, and has facial hair some might call the beginnings of a beard.

He also doesn’t talk like a freshman. He approaches the game as if he were an upperclassman. He studies the game and is working on a third pitch, a changeup, to go with his fastball and curve.

“In Little League every hitter was an easy out,” he said. “Here each batter possesses a different challenge.

“I’m real confident out there. I’ve been confident basically my whole life.

“I’m throwing my curve more than I like. I locate my fastball better. Coach calls the pitches. I spot (the fastball). For a strikeout I’ll go high and inside. I try to get them to bait.”

Lorkowski is as surprised as anyone by his success on the mound that has arrived so soon. That’s not the only area of the game that has proven unpredictable.

“I really didn’t think I’d be pitching as well as I am,” he said. “And I thought I’d be hitting better.”

Lorkowski said he hasn’t been able to get as many reps at the plate as he would like, certainly not as many as he had the last two seasons playing for Little Caesars in city’s federation league.

Lorkowski also made the varsity basketball team but says he’s not sure he wants to continue competing in that sport. Playing basketball brought his weight down to 200 and he said he wants to be more committed to the weight room to add strength.

Right now he’s enjoying the ride. North is 18-7 this season and, at 10-3, is in contention for the White Division title.

The state tournament begins May 31 as North will play St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in a Division 1 pre-district.

Three years might seem long to some but Lorkowski often thinks about that magical ’13 season. The regional victory in Indianapolis that clinched the spot in the World Series stands out most. Even though his team was eliminated after two games, the memories are all good. His seven shutout innings in the first game is something to be proud of.

“I loved going on the bus rides with the guys,” he said. “Those were fun. The night we won the regional, none of us slept that night. We just kept talking about it. I don’t think any of us slept for two or three days.”