New Era Correspondent
The evening’s unseasonable chill hinted at the coming of fall, but Donegal’s boys of summer warmed things one last time. And pitcher Darin Gorski brought the heat.
In one of the most dominant performances in New Era Tournament history, Gorski struck out 16 of the 22 batters he faced, allowing one hit – Peter Savage’s infield single – as Donegal captured the NET Midget title with a 10-0 lashing of Manheim Township Black.
It was the third 10-run mercy win in three tournament games for Donegal (18-5) and the third shutout for Gorski.
The junior lefty allowed five hits in 17 tournament innings, walked five and struck out 31. He held opposing batters to a composite .091 average.
His 16 championship-game Ks were a career high. And yet, without a helping hand from Mother Nature, he never gets the ball in the title game.
Before the tournament began someone asked Donegal coach Jerry Hess about his pitching plans.
He revealed that Gorski would get the ball on opening night and again the following Monday. And after that? “I’d pray for rain,” he replied.
Hess’ request was answered twice as a rainout forced the title game from Tuesday night to Wednesday. A downpour Wednesday backed it up to Friday.
“We were watching it come over the field,” said Gorski of Wednesday’s deluge. “I was like, Yeah!”
With the extra day’s rest, Gorski pitches trailed sparks. He had trouble locating his offspeed pitches, and decided early on to just reach and fire.
“I figured I’d go throw a few and see if they hit it,” Gorski said. “They never did, so I kept with it.”
“And why not,” acknowledged Township coach Lyle Hosler. “He was dominant the whole way through.”
“This is the best stuff I’ve seen him have all year,” Hess said. “There was no need for deception when you can blow it by them.”
There were just two plays made behind him. Carper threw out Pete Fisher trying to steal in the first inning and Bernie Zaritzky popped to thirdbaseman Greg Breneman in the fifth.
Fisher reached base on one of three walks issued by Gorski. The other two came in the fifth. He also grazed Carlos Medina’s uniform to load the bases with two out in the inning before getting Zaritzky’s popup.
Shortstop Jordan Mellinger just missed retiring Savage, diving in the dirt behind second to knock down his leadoff one-hopper.
Meanwhile, Donegal was making Gorski’s task a little easier, jumping on Township (15-7) and starter Grant Wiest for four unearned runs in the first inning.
Wiest, who had a week between starts, was not sharp. After back-to-back walks to Davin Green and Mellinger, Carper hit a potential doubleplay ball to shortstop Kyle Hershey.
Hershey bobbled the ball, allowing Green to score and Gorski, the next batter, reached base when leftfielder Robert Schimaneck dropped his fly ball.
Mellinger and Jon Estable, running for Carper, scored on the error. Breneman doubled to right, sending Jared Wilson, running for Gorski, to third.
Andrew Flattery flied to right field, then Wilson tagged and got hung up between third and home as Savage threw a seed to Fisher at home.
But Fisher lost control of the throw and Wilson touched home with the fourth run. Jamie Shanley’s RBI single made it 5-0 in the third.
Green singled in a run behind Cafrelli and with Donegal leading 8-0 – on Shanley’s third hit of the game – the bases were again loaded when Cafrelli came to bat in the sixth.
He worked a 3-1 count, then stroked a double to the fence in center, clearing the bases.
“He had 12 at-bats in the tournament and hit the ball 10 out of 12 hard,” Hess said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
“I could go 0-for-7, as long as it still says 11-0, you know?” Cafrelli said, not realizing the 11th run didn’t count.
The win was the first at the midget level for a Mount Joy-based team since 1993.
In 1987 another Mount Joy midget team wore the NET crown. Those boys went on to post-season glory in high school in ’89 and ’90. The ’93 team ran aground in the post season in their time.
What will be the fate of this group?
“I told these boys before the game, regardless of what happens tonight, they’ll be back here (Ephrata’s War Memorial Field) next May,” Hess said, “playing in the L-L playoffs.”
And maybe in late July, defending their New Era title.
Rested Gorski dominates for Midget champs
By Jason Guarente
New Era Sports Writer
As an impending storm loomed over Ephrata’s War Memorial Field on Wednesday, it became obvious there would be no game that night.
Bad news, right?
Not for Darin Gorski.
Donegal’s ace lefthander looked at the sky and welcomed the rain.
“I saw those clouds rolling in and I thought, ‘Yes!’ he said.
Gorski wanted to pitch, but he had already thrown 10 innings in the past five days and he needed time for his arm to recover. Mother Nature provided it.
When the New Era Tournament Midget title game finally took place Friday night, Gorski was rested and ready. He threw a one-hit shutout over six innings and struck out 16 as Donegal defeated Manheim Township Black 10-0.
It was a clinic in power pitching. How hard was Gorski throwing? Ask his catcher.
“My hand hurts right now,” Charlie Carper said. “I’m going to have to ice it.”
One fastball after another flew out of Gorski’s hand and almost all of them found their way into Carper’s mitt. Township’s hitters struggled to even foul balls off as they quickly made the U-turn back to the dugout.
At one point, Gorski struck out 10 consecutive batters. The 6-2, 160-pound lefty fanned the side in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. The only two outs other than strikeouts came on a caught stealing and a pop up to third baseman Greg Breneman. Township’s only hit was an infield single.
“I felt like I was really in control,” said Gorski, who will be a junior at Donegal High. “I was able to get my fastball in good spots in the zone and they never really caught up to it.”
It was a pitcher’s dream game. Gorski’s repertoire also includes a nasty forkball that dives into the dirt, but he hardly used it. Why bother? The heater was doing just fine.
How many off-speed pitches did Gorski throw?
“I remember four or five, and that was it,” Donegal coach Jere Hess said.
No one caught up to Gorski in this entire tournament. He was the only Donegal pitcher to take the mound, tossing 16 innings and earning three wins. Gorski fired three shutouts as Donegal outscored Lancaster, the Lititz Oddfellows and Township by a combined 32 runs.
In Hess’ eyes, it was a week of mastery unlike any other.
“This is my fifth decade in the New Era Tournament and I don’t think I’ve seen a more impressive total performance,” Hess said. “To do what he did for three games, I don’t think I’ve seen anything close to it.”
Pitching, it turns out, runs in Gorski’s family. He’s a fourth generation lefty, according to his dad, Gary, who is the third link in that chain.
How was Gary’s fastball?
“Not that good,” he said. “I was more of an off-balance guy.”
Most lefties are. They’re usually renowned for being crafty rather than dominant. Gorski breaks the mold. He was anything but crafty Friday night.
“That’s pretty much how he’s pitched all year,” Carper said. “We had to respect (Township). They worked as hard as we did to get here. But he kept blowing the ball by them.”
Township, which had shut out Hempfield Black and Penn Manor on its way to the final, had no answer for a pitcher it hadn’t seen this summer.
Gorski can thank a well-timed thunderstorm for giving him a rare chance to carry his team the distance.
The lanky lefthander took it from there.