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Published: May 04, 2009 10:28 pm 

HS BASEBALL: GI's Pawlowski packs a punch

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — When Marv Pawlowski hits the ball, the opposition usually feels the effects. His own coach Dean Santorio could certainly attest to that.

“He hit me with a line drive in (batting practice) last year that put me out of commission for a week,” the veteran Grand Island coach said with a chuckle. “That’s how hard he hits the ball. Believe me, I know it first-hand.”

Pawlowski, too, gets a laugh out of last year’s incident, but says it’s just his job to hit the ball hard each and every time he’s up to bat.

This spring, though, he’s added a flair for the dramatic. The senior left fielder hit a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning off Kenmore East’s Scott Whitehead to help the Vikings to a key 1-0 win. The shot also helped teammate Joel Klock complete a no-hit, 18-strikeout performance.

“That was probably the best moment in my baseball career,” Pawlowski said.

Two days later, Pawlowski roped a run-scoring single to right-center in the 12th inning to lift GI past Niagara Falls, 4-2. Prior to the hit, Pawlowski fouled off five above-average breaking balls from NFHS hurler Steve Rick.

“That’s one of the best at-bats you’re going to see all year,” Santorio said after the game.

What makes Pawlowski’s run-producing prowess even more impressive is the fact that he’s been doing it from the second spot in the batting order. Last spring, Pawlowski hit sixth behind some of the area’s best batters.

“I saw a lot more fastballs last year, which helped me make second team all-Niagara Frontier League, but this year since I’m hitting second, I’ve focused more on getting on base and letting the power come,” Pawlowski explained.

Santorio added, “He could easily be hitting three, four or five for us, but I need his speed near the top of the lineup. We need him to help us manufacture runs and he’s come up big in that regard when we’ve needed it most thus far this season.”

Pawlowski has also shown tremendous versatility in the field, playing third base a year ago and moving to left field this spring. Ironically, his natural position is catcher, a spot held down by three-year starter and all-Gazette selection Joe Oliverio.

“He’s been willing to do whatever we ask of him for two years now,” Santorio said. “He played third last year and just sucked it up and never complained. That’s just the type of kid he is and it’s really the type of group we have here.”

The Vikings’ fresh attitudes have continued to translate into wins on the field as well. GI was 5-0 in the NFL heading into Monday’s game against Lockport and Pawlowski hopes that unbeaten streak continues well into the playoffs.

“We’re really focused on getting far in the playoffs this year,” he said. “Last year was very disappointing, losing in the first round, so we want to change that feeling this year.”

Pawlowski plans to attend Niagara University and play travel hockey next fall. Pawlowski was a standout on the Vikings’ club hockey team that reached Super Sunday this past winter.