EAST HAMPTON >> Taichung Stadium is thousands of miles from the pitching mound at East Hampton High School. Dodger Stadium isn’t as far, although for high school baseball players on the East Coast, Chavez Ravine could seem like it’s halfway around the world.
East Hampton senior Marvin Gorgas pitched in both venues this past summer as a member of the USA 18U national team. For Gorgas, the reigning Shoreline Conference Player of the Year whose fastball has been clocked as high as 93 miles per hour, it was two more stops on what is becoming a magical baseball journey.
“It is rewarding to see Marvin competing at such a high level,” said East Hampton baseball coach Scott Wosleger. “But, if you ask him he is just as happy that our school gets recognition and our town gets recognized.”
On Sept. 8, USA defeated Japan, 3-2, to win the gold medal at the 2013 IBAF ‘AAA’/18U World Cup championships in Taiwan.
“It was awesome to be able to represent our country and wear the jersey that says USA across the chest,” said Gorgas, a 5-10, 195 pound righthander. “Having this privilege to play for Team USA and giving East Hampton that publicity, it’s an honor for me.”
Gorgas didn’t appear in the final but he did earn the pitching win three days before in USA’s second-round contest against Venezuela. Gorgas came on in the fifth inning and tossed 2.2 relief innings. He allowed no runs, two hits, walked two and struck out one. With two on and one out in the seventh, Gorgas got Venezuela’s Jose Pina to bounce into a 6-4-3 double-play, ending USA’s 15-5 victory via the mercy-rule.
“Marvin allowing us to get out of there in a run-rule game was big,” 18U National team manager Rob Cooper told usabaseball.com. “I thought our pitchers did a great job.”
USA went 8-1 during the nine-day tournament (Aug. 30-Sept. 8) at Taiwan’s Taichung, Dou-Liou and Intercontinental Stadiums. Their only defeat was a 1-0 loss against Australia and 17-year old lefthander Lewis Thorpe, a Minnesota Twins signee who struck out eight.
Gorgas made three appearances in the tourney. He threw 6.1 innings and allowed no runs on four hits. He also walked two and struck out four.
“It was weird at first facing all these kids from all over the world,” said Gorgas, who made relief appearances against Italy and Australia. “It was pretty much like facing Ichiro. They all run out every play and no matter what pitch you made they still put the bat on it. It was just an awesome atmosphere.”
Gorgas also played second base and third base in exhibition games against Chinese Taipei. One of his favorite highlights was going 2-for-3 with a game-tying RBI single in a 3-1 win.
“He played with some guys who are just absolutely amazing athletes and amazing baseball players,” said Wosleger.
After making the 17U National team a year ago, Gorgas, along with 144 players from around the country, was invited to the Tournament of Stars (June19-23) at the National Training Complex in Cary (N.C.). The 40 players who made the cut then got sent to Fullerton (Ca.) in mid-August for the 18U team trials and intra-squad games at Cal-State Fullerton, Long Beach State, the University of San Diego and yes, Dodger Stadium. The team was narrowed down to 20 before heading to Taiwan. (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were on the 18U national team in 2009.)
“I was happy I got to play against all those good kids,” said Gorgas, who also played for the East Haddam legion team before heading to California. “And I was lucky enough and honored to be one of those 20.”
“He was fortunate enough to get invited to play with USA last year so he had the experience,” Wosleger added. “So when he went this year his feet were wet. He knew what to expect. For our little town, whatever we have here…13,000 people…and to have him not only represent our town but our country as a player and then have a great experience of winning a gold medal, it was incredible.”
Wosleger became the head baseball coach at East Hampton in 2007, coinciding with the Bellringers move from the Charter Oak Conference to the Shoreline. Under Wosleger, the Bellringers have captured three SLC championships (2008, 2011, 2013). They also won the Class S state title in 2011 and were voted the No. 1 high school baseball team in the state by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.
“A lot of people were apprehensive about moving to the Shoreline Conference but it’s been a great move for us,” said Wosleger, whose teams have gone 97-65 (.598), including 17-5 in the postseason. “I think all of our sports programs in general have excelled in the Shoreline. When you play better competition it’s better for you. Next year we will win our 100th game during my course here, and there have been a lot of guys over the years who have been a part of it.”
Gorgas, who grew up in Puerto Rico, moved to East Hampton with his father in 2008.
“He came to a clinic in the seventh grade and he hit one off the fence in the gap,” Wosleger recalled. “I thought, well, man I hope he’s staying in East Hampton. He could do everything. He could run, field, hit and throw. It’s been fortunate for us. We’ve been building a program before he got here. We won the conference championship in 2008 and then he gets here and he’s made an immediate impact.”
Gorgas saved a school-record 11 games as a freshman, including three scoreless relief innings against East Catholic in the Class S championship game. As a junior last season, Gorgas went 10-2 while leading the Bellringers to the state semifinals.
“What he’s done is he’s got better and better mentally and physically each year,” said Wosleger. “And when you throw over 90 miles an hour people are going to notice. That’s where we get scouts at the games and college coaches calling us and emailing us.”
“He’s taught me a lot from Day 1,” Gorgas said of Wosleger. “He’s always been like another dad for me. I consider him part of my family, just like the rest of the team and the coaches.”
Wosleger, who played college baseball at New Haven (he was a member of the Chargers 1982 World Series team) and Iona (1983-85), where he was a three-time MAAC Player of the Week, has seen several Bellringers go on to play at the collegiate level, including his sons Tyler (Fairfield) and A.J. (Southern Vermont). Wosleger’s youngest son, Owen, is a sophomore at East Hampton.
“We try to run the program and our drills and our practices like a college program,” said Wosleger. “And when we do get a kid who is baseball only and doesn’t play another sport we try to have him do baseball as much as we can year-round. A very small percentage of high school athletes play in college so we’re pretty proud of the guys who go on and are playing in college at some level.”
Gorgas has verbally committed to UConn.
“I’m looking forward to going to UConn,” Gorgas said. “I’ve been to a visit and I loved it there. I wanted to stay around here and not go too far. So UConn was the perfect fit for me.”
“He could have gone anywhere he wanted…LSU, Arizona…a bunch of places but he really liked the coaching staff at UConn,” added Wosleger. “In addition to a good education it’s a tremendous character-building program. He’ll have opportunities because it’s likely he’ll get drafted in June. I’d like to see him go to school but there’s going to be some decisions to make.”
From his childhood home in Gurabo, Puerto Rico and a Pony League championship to helping East Hampton win a state championship; from winning the gold medal with Team USA to a possible high draft pick in this June’s major league baseball draft, it’s been more than a baseball journey for Gorgas.
“As the teachers say here, you’d never know it,” added Wosleger. “He’s a humble kid and a pleasure to be around. He’s a popular kid with a lot of friends. He’s evolved as a kid and as a player, which has given him great exposure. It’s been an amazing run. What he is doing is unprecedented and what he is yet to do will be unmatched.”