Two years ago, Luca Dalatri completed what might very well be the greatest pitching career in Shore Conference history.

For all his accomplishments in his four years at Christian Brothers Academy, the current University of North Carolina sophomore by way of Wall Township never did what a fellow Wall native has done over the past two seasons since Dalatri graduated.

With a second straight sparkling season in 2018, Wall junior left-hander Trey Dombroski led all qualified Shore Conference pitchers in earned-run average for the second straight season – a category Dalatri topped only one time in his career, as a sophomore in 2014.

Dalatri’s three-year dominance in the Shore Conference is the sort of performance that is only supposed to come along once in a generation and yet, here is a pitcher who has exceeded him in at least one respect. Dombroski has turned in a statistical profile that approaches that of Dalatri in his sophomore and junior seasons and that profile makes him an overwhelming choice for 2018 Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year.

Wall junior Trey Dombroski. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Before diving into the similarities between Dombroski and the pitcher who authored, perhaps, the greatest three-year stretch in the history of the conference, it is important to recognize the ways in which Dalatri remains unmatched. Dombroski did not rack up the innings totals that Dalatri did as a sophomore and junior, a period during which Dalatri spun 143 1/3 innings to Dombroski’s 109 1/3.

Dalatri was also CBA’s No. 1 pitcher on opening day of his sophomore year, a position Dombroski did not ascend to until the latter part of his sophomore year. He also holds a massive lead on Dombroski in strikeouts over those two seasons, 212-102.

As far as a follow-up to their respective breakout season is concerned, however, Dombroski begins to compare favorably to the CBA legend. Dombroski was a model of both efficiency and consistency this past year, going 8-1 with a 0.54 ERA, a Shore-Conference-best 0.60 WHIP (walks-plus-hits per inning) and 71 strikeouts against just 10 walks. Dalatri racked up a ridiculous 122 strikeouts against just seven walks as a junior in 2015, but his ERA (0.89) was higher than that of Dombroski.

Dombroski did not get a chance to pitch in an NJSIAA final like Dalatri did, but he did everything in his power to give Wall a chance to get there. Dombroski struck out the side in the seventh inning to save a 1-0 win over Lawrence in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III opening round, then fired back-to-back seven-inning outings with no earned runs allowed against Steinert and Mercer County Tournament champion Hopewell Valley. In the three postseason games, Dombroski went 2-0 with a save, 18 strikeouts, two walks, nine hits and one unearned run allowed over 15 innings to pitch the Crimson Knights to a sectional final.

Had Wall gotten past Allentown in the Central Group III final, Dombroski would have had the opportunity to make two more starts in an effort to pitch his team to a Group III title, but the Knights lost in the sectional final, 6-5.

Because Wall was wrapped up in a race to win Class B North and a pursuit of the Group III title, Dombroski never got the ball in Monmouth County or Shore Conference Tournament play. Instead, he was nearly untouchable within B North, helping Wall go 13-1 for an outright division title.

In five starts against B North competition, Dombroski pitched five seven-inning complete games without allowing an earned run and never more than two hits in any one of those five starts. The final stat line in those games is almost hard to comprehend: 35 innings, nine hits, no earned runs, six walks and 41 strikeouts - good for an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.43.

Two of Dombroski’s B North complete games came against two-time Monmouth County Tournament champion Red Bank Catholic, which finished in second place in B North, three games behind Wall. In those two starts against the dangerous Caseys lineup, Dombroski threw a two-hitter in each one with a total of 19 strikeouts and two walks.

The junior left-hander also took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Middletown South on April 24 and lost it on an infield single with none out in the seventh.

Dombroski’s only loss of the season came in a 4-1, non-division loss against Howell that fell on the Monday of the Shore Conference Tournament seeding meeting with Dombroski on a season-high eight-day layoff and the game being of little consequence to Wall and rather significant for Howell. Dombroski surrendered one of his two home runs of the season in that game, with the other coming in a relief appearance at Jackson Liberty on April 21.

It’s hard to imagine another pitcher tearing through the Shore Conference the way Dalatri did, but Dombroski has at least approached that level of excellence just two years after Dalatri graduated. As a varsity pitcher, Dombroski is now 14-1 with a 0.51 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over 109 1/3 innings with 102 strikeouts and 16 walks. In addition to leading all pitchers with at least 20 innings with his 0.54 ERA, he also led all pitchers with his 0.60 WHIP and finished fourth in the Shore Conference with 71 strikeouts.

The 6-foot-4 Dombroski dominated with a lethal fastball-curveball combination and mixed in a changeup from time-to-time as well. The threat of his curveball made his fastball even more effective as he used it to generate swings and misses at the top of the strike zone while still setting up batters for the curveball by changing their eye level.

Dombroski has already offered up a non-binding verbal commitment to pitch at Monmouth University after his high school career is through, but he still has one more season left to rewrite the Wall and Shore Conference record books. Maybe the comparison to the best high school pitcher the Shore has seen since Al Leiter pitched at Central is an unfair one, but Dombroski’s performance in 2018 put him in rare company.

 

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