Daniel Arellano, who overcame a rare disorder at a young age, has helped fuel the resurgence of the Kearny baseball program. Arellano pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday.
Kearny High pitcher Daniel Arellano ranks second in the state with 114 strikeouts. Impressive as that is, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior right-hander is lucky to be playing baseball at all.
As an 8-year-old, Arellano was stricken with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nervous system.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes GBS, but some cases have been linked to viral or bacterial infections.
“My doctors told me that the chance of me ever walking again was slim to none,” said Arellano, who was paralyzed from the neck down and hospitalized for several weeks.
Despite his youthfulness, Arellano vowed that he would regain his mobility.
And so he has.
He pitched the final two innings with five strikeouts in Kearny’s 4-0 City League victory Tuesday at Morse. Before moving to the mound, Arellano sparkled at shortstop and was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI against the Tigers.
“After I got out of the hospital I went through four to five months of physical therapy,” Arellano said. “I had to learn to walk and use my muscles again. It was basically like starting over.”
Arellano was unable to begin his baseball career until he was 9. His first position was catcher and he also played third base and shortstop. He didn’t pick up pitching until his sophomore year in high school.
“This is my fourth year on varsity,” Arellano said after the Komets (13-9, 8-0) blanked Morse for the third straight game. “People have looked at Kearny as a doormat, and we’ve worked hard to change that. We feel like every time we go out there we have something to prove.”
Quiency Burnell pitched the first five innings for the Komets to earn his sixth win in seven decisions. He allowed two hits, walked three and struck out seven.
“Quiency is a five-tool player,” said second-year Kearny coach Cheyne Whitney.
Burnell struggled at times with his control, but his defense came up with key plays. The biggest play of the game for the Komets came in the fifth inning when left fielder Larry Young threw out the potential tying run with a strike to catcher Tony Olivier to end the inning.
“I made some mistakes,” Burnell said, “but I’ve learned to keep my composure and not let things mess me up when they’re not going good.”
That’s a motto Kearny has learned to live by.