Zuchowski caps time at Foley with brilliant senior season, state title

By: Mike Moore | Madison - Park News | Published July 8, 2011

 Foley senior Dan Zuchowski wrapped up his career on the 2011 All-State and Dream Team.

Foley senior Dan Zuchowski wrapped up his career on the 2011 All-State and Dream Team.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

MADISON HEIGTHS — For six innings, Dan Zuchowski labored.

For six innings, he did exactly what was asked and gave his team a chance at a pinnacle of success it had never known before.

Three batters hit by pitches suggested his location was a bit off, but when that big pitch was needed — when the bases were loaded and pressure was mounting — he came through.

And when he was asked to take on another role, he did that, too.

In the top half of the seventh inning, he made a circus play at shortstop, which summed up the type of player he is and the type of prep career that he has now completed.

“I see him do something like that, and truthfully, I wasn’t even surprised,” Madison Heights Bishop Foley coach Buster Sunde said of the seventh-inning play in the June 18
Division 3 title game, where Zuchowski scooped up a ball that had deflected off the second baseman’s foot and fired a bullet to first base. “That’s just the type of thing you come to expect from him. For six innings, his mindset was totally locked on as a pitcher. The second I moved him to short, he shifted that mindset to everything needed to be the best shortstop he could.”

Sunde didn’t limit his compliment to Zuchowski’s play at shortstop, either. The Foley skipper called his senior one of the best players he ever worked with and one who had a season that was “the best I’ve seen from a high school kid.”

Zuchowski finished the year with a .577 batting average, eight home runs, 22 doubles, eight triples and 58 RBIs.

And he was just as deadly on the mound.

In 83 innings of work, he was 12-1 with a .76 ERA and 106 strikeouts. In the final six innings of his career, he allowed one earned run on six hits while guiding the Ventures to their first state title ever.

“It was definitely the best of my three years playing high school ball,” said Zuchowski of Hamtramck, who didn’t play baseball as a freshman before transferring to Foley as a sophomore. “I was a little surprised with the numbers I put up, but I really think it goes back to the work I put in all offseason.”

Sunde agreed with Zuchowski’s assessment of offseason work being a key to his success.

“We had so much talent on our team, some really good ball players, but he was the guy that was always consistent, no matter what,” Sunde said. “He prepared himself every single day, practiced well and did all the little things needed to be great.”

Aside from leading Foley to the D-3 crown, Zuchowski earned a spot on the 2011 All-State team, the Dream Team and took part in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game June 21 at Comerica Park.

“It’s going to be tough to move on from this team and this season,” admitted Zuchowski, who is set to play at the University of Toledo next season. “This was a great year where we made a lot of memories.”

One memory, in particular, sticks out for Sunde, one that seems to fully encompass the true talent Zuchowski possessed.

“We were winning a game pretty handily a couple years ago, the bases were loaded, and he was due up,” Sunde explained. “I told him to flip around and hit right-handed because I know he’d never hit (right) before.”

Following coach’s orders, Zuchowski took a cut at a belt-high fastball and sent it over the outfield fence. Earlier this spring, the same scenario presented itself, and somewhat certain he wouldn’t pull off the same feat, Sunde again instructed Zuchowski to bat right, for just the second time ever.

In two career at-bats from the right side, Zuchowski has hit two grand slams.
 

Advertisement