Baseball: Shawaryn leads Brooklawn to World Series title


By Phil Anastasia

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Mike Shawaryn wanted the baseball.

It didn't matter that he had pitched three nights earlier.

It didn't matter that he had thrown nine innings -- and struck out 12 -- in the first game of the American Legion World Series Friday night against Waipahu, Hawaii.

It was Tuesday night, and it was the championship game.

It was Shawaryn's last game in a Brooklawn uniform.

It was his last game in an inter-locked career of his four years as a varsity member of the Gloucester Catholic program and player for the Brooklawn senior team.

"I wanted to pitch," Shawaryn said Wednesday morning.

The tall right-hander who will depart shortly for the University of Maryland stamped an exclamation point on one of the most remarkable seasons in Brooklawn's illustrious history -- and on one of the most accomplished careers by a South Jersey baseball player.

Shawaryn struck out eight and allowed just four hits as Brooklawn won the World Series title with a 10-0 victory over Petaluma, Cal., in a game shortened to seven innings in Shelby, N.C.

"It still hasn't sunk it," Shawaryn said Wednesday morning on the bus ride back to Brooklawn. "I'm still on Cloud Nine."

Brooklawn won its third World Series title. The program also won crowns in 1991 and 2001.

The title-clinching victory was a team effort, as the Brookers rapped 17 hits in overwhelming a team that had beaten them by a 14-4 score on Monday night.

Catcher Jon Theckston, who like Shawaryn and pitcher Dan Higgins was a member of Brooklawn teams that made three World Series in a row, was 3-for-4 with three RBI singles.

Nick Cieri was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Sean Breen, Fran Kinsey and Tyler Mondile each had two hits and Anthony Harrold was 2-for-2, finishing the World Series with a .588 batting average (10-for-17) and earning Player of the Year honors as the top hitter at the tournament.

Shawaryn was the Pitcher of the Year. In two games in the World Series, Shawaryn struck out 20 with zero walks.

His performance Tuesday night will become the stuff of Brooklawn legend. He said it was just the second time in his career that he pitched on three days' rest.

"I usually throw my bullpen (session) on my third day," Shawaryn said. "(On Monday) I was throwing in the outfield with Josh (pitching coach Josh Copskey) and I felt pretty good.

"Warming up (Tuesday night), I felt fine. Once I got in the game, adrenaline took over. I was just concentrating on throwing first-pitch strikes and keeping my pitch count down."

Shawaryn retired the first 10 batters he faced and 13 of the first 14. He ended up facing just 25 batters (four over the minimum) as Brooklawn's bats took care of the rest.

For Shawaryn, it was the culmination of a career as a high school player that included four state titles at Gloucester Catholic and three World Series appearances with Brooklawn.

Shawaryn also is a top student. He emerged as an unquestioned leader of a Brooklawn team that relied heavily on younger players.

"Michael will go down in GC and Brooklawn lore as one of the best pitchers ever," Barth said Wednesday morning. "More importantly, he will go down in history as one of the most level-headed and well-rounded kids I've ever been around.

"I can't think of a kid who has achieved so much as an athlete and also accomplished as much as a student and person in four years. He's a lot more than a great baseball player."

Shawaryn still seemed a bit overwhelmed by the end of his career on Wednesday. He said he was most proud of his ability to contribute to great programs at Gloucester Catholic and Brooklawn, and to play for coaches such as Barth and his father -- legendary Brooklawn founder Joe Barth, Sr. -- as well as Copskey, GC head coach and Brooklawn assistant Mike Rucci, and many others.

"It's special for me and it's special to be able to do it for them," Shawaryn said. "This is for Brooker Nation and all the Brooker alumni.

"The Barth family and all my coaches over the last four years, I can't tell you how much they've done for my development into the player and man I am today. They are the reason I was able to start that game."

Shawaryn did more than start that game.

He finished it, closing the book on a incredible chapter in the history of an incredible program.

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