ISHPEMING - At 6-2, 200 pounds, Chad Lorkowski towers over most of his Grosse Pointe Woods Shores Little League baseball teammates.
The 12-year-old pitcher was also an imposing figure against Bay City Northwest on Wednesday in the championship game of the state Major Division (11-12) tournament in Ishpeming.
Lorkowski allowed one hit and struck out 11 in six innings of work to lead GP Woods Shores to a 1-0 victory.
Grosse Point Woods Shores celebrates its Michigan Little League Majors Division state baseball championship. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Grosse Pointe Woods Shores’ Joey Rheaume, right, high-fives team manager Tom Mazzola after hitting a home run in the championship game of the Little League Majors Division state baseball tournament on Wednesday at the Ishpeming Ballfield Complex in Ishpeming. The home run was the lone score in the game. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Grosse Pointe Woods Shores’ Tyler Hill, left, catches the ball to get Bay City Northwest's Nick Dardas (2) out at second base in the championship game of the Little League Majors Division state baseball tournament on Wednesday in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"I just tried to hit my spots," he said after his team advanced to Central Region tournament action beginning Aug. 2 in Indianapolis. "I didn't throw one curve ball - only fast balls."
Lorkowski struck out the side in the first and sixth innings, throwing just 74 total pitches overall.
"I wasn't nervous," he said. "I thought I might throw harder, but I didn't want my arm to get sore later on."
Bay City Northwest had just one scoring chance in the game. In the fifth inning, Nick Dardas hit a single to left and Austin Lawless bunted him to second for the second out of the inning.
Lorkowski then got a groundout to first to end the threat.
"That was a spectacular performance," GP Woods Shores manager Tom Mazzola said of his hurler. "This was the first time (in the tourney) we pitched him more than 20 pitches (in a game)."
Said Bay City NW manager Mike Shore: "(Lorkowski's) a big kid, a monster. He threw well and (his pitches were) hard to pick up."
The only run Lorkowski needed came from teammate Joey Rheaume, who hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning.
"I was looking for a first pitch fastball," Rheaume said on his second round tripper of the tourney. "It was down the middle and I just swung.
"I didn't know right away if it would be a homer. It feels good."
Mazzola said he put Rheaume into Tuesday's semifinal game as a sub so the latter could get some practice in against fast ball pitching.
"He's a great fast ball hitter and I told Joey to jump on the pitch," he said. "He pulled his hands in and drove the ball ... over the fence."
The only other GP Woods Shores hit off losing pitcher Dardas was a single by Tyler Hill in the third inning. Dardas fanned five and threw 70 pitches in five innings.
"The home run (he allowed) was not a bad pitch," Shore said. "It's right where we wanted it, but (Rheaume) just hit it.
"It's a tough day, but the kids played well. It came down to a pitcher's duel and I knew whoever hit the ball would come out on top."
He added many of his players lost in the 10-year-old state championship game two years ago to Grosse Pointe Park.
"They're all great players," Shore said of his team. "It's a tough day ... but we'll regroup and be fine."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.