Grosse Pointe North pitcher dominates with 0.00 ERA
Grosse Pointe — In 2013, Chad Lorkowski burst onto the international baseball scene — as a precocious pre-teen.
It was that summer the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder known as “Swag Daddy” cracked a pair of homers and struck out 10 — and had his cap fly off following his delivery — to send Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League to the World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Fast forward three years, and you’ll find Lorkowski is at it again.
Only now he’s turning heads on the high school diamond.
At 6-5 and 215 pounds, the Grosse Pointe North right-hander is 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA, allowing 17 hits with 44 strikeouts and three walks in 31 innings.
“Looking back at it now, it was a big deal, but when I was in the moment it wasn’t a big deal to me,” Lorkowski said of the World Series. “I was getting a lot of followers on Instagram and everyone was just talking to me about stuff. People were sending me news articles from all over, saying read this.
“It was all surreal, the best time of my life.”
North coach Frank Sumbera has been impressed with his freshman pitcher.
Consider Lorkowski’s 3-0 shutout over first-place Warren Cousino in Week 3 of the league season, when he struck out 10 and allowed four hits.
“He works hard on his game,” said Sumbera, who has more than 1,000 career victories. “He has three pitches with a fastball that reaches in the mid-80s, along with a good change-up and curve. He’s the real deal and he’s going to get nothing but better if he stays focused and healthy.
“He has the knack of getting ahead of the hitters a lot. He doesn’t fool around, either. He’s all business. He just gets it and brings it. He comes and attacks the zone. The kids play good behind him and he’s in command on that mound.”
And, Sumbera said, the kid doesn’t succumb to pressure.
When starter Tristin Richardson couldn’t go in the MAC White opener against L’Anse Creuse, Sumbera turned to Lorkowski, who responded with a 9-0 victory, allowing three hits and striking out six.
“I always thought I could stay with them (varsity level players),” Lorkowski said. “I definitely felt I belonged when I came in against Brother Rice and pitched two innings in relief (in his debut), struck out the side in one inning, then got two ground ball outs in the next. Then, I got the win in relief in the next game against South.”
While Lorkowski has been dominant on the mound, his teammates have been solid defensively and at the plate, averaging 8.7 runs and hitting .380 during his starts.
“He stays ahead of the hitters so we’re always ready to play behind him,” North second baseman Sam Cross said. “You know when your pitcher’s throwing a really good game, you want to make the best plays behind him.
“I was a little surprised at the beginning of the season, but now we’re getting used to it after watching what he’s done start after start.”
So, too, have his opponents.
Warren Mott coach Shawn Maloney, in his 16th season, had high praise for Lorkowski.
“He’s outstanding,” said Maloney, whose team lost to North, 11-0, on Monday. “He has a good body. He works really fast on the mound. He can spot his pitches up. He did a really good job locating pitches. He mixes it up with a good fastball, curve and change-up. He hides the ball well, too.
“He can try to pick corners, and if he’s not getting the call, he can go right down the middle and then get contact and make outs.”
Sumbera got his first glimpse of Lorkowski playing in the 2013 Great Lakes Regional championship game on television, but his first-hand introduction was as his eighth-grade basketball coach.
Lorkowski took advantage of his size and led the team in scoring but said at times he could get on Sumbera’s nerves.
“We butted heads at the beginning because I was a goofball,” Lorkowski said. “We talked at the end of the season about baseball and he told me I’d have a chance to play varsity baseball my freshman year.”
Said Sumbera: “He was not really a clown or anything like that, didn’t pull pranks, but he likes to have a good time. ... He’s just a fun-loving, easy-going kid.”
Lorkowski’s goal isn’t to go unbeaten or not allow a run.
He’s got bigger aspirations.
“I’m trying to win a state championship, and feel we have the team to do it,” Lorkowski said.