Baseball – 2019 SSN Pitcher of the Year: Trey Dombroski, Wall
Trey Dombroski began his high school varsity career at Wall not as a freshman phenom or even a sophomore one. Instead, he was one of the many key cogs in a loaded group of players from the graduating class of 2019 and he got his first chance to show what he could do in a varsity game as a closer.
In his first varsity appearance, Dombroski was not a dominant starter but rather a wide-eyed closer who struck out the first batter he faced and walked the second before earning the first of his three career saves.
The debut was an unassuming one considering what was to follow it. The 6-foot-5 left-hander went on to author an All-Shore season as a sophomore and came back as a junior poised for a two-year run that rivals some of the great careers ever in the Shore Conference.
For all his dominance Dombroski never lost the perspective that he was just one player on a tight-knit team of kids from the same town. In his final season, he displayed both the talent that sets him apart from the rest of his peers as well as the personality and leadership that made him just one of the guys on a team that finally reached the goal it had been pursuing for three seasons.
That fusion of easy-going teammate and calculated assassin was the perfect blend in a second straight season that ends with Dombroski as the Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year.
Dombroski was a force of nature over his three varsity seasons, slicing up opposing lineups with a fastball that sat between 85 and 88 miles-per-hour, two variations of a plus curveball and the occasional changeup – all of which he threw with pinpoint command. In his last season, he led the Shore in wins (11) and strikeouts (126) and also had the best ERA (0.37) of any Shore pitcher with 30 or more innings.
The way Dombroski tore through the Shore Conference over the past two seasons – particularly in his record-setting senior season – was machine-like but by the end of his run, he began to look more human. After giving up a career-high nine hits in a 4-3 win over Cherry Hill West in the Group III semifinals, Dombroski came down with a sore shoulder in the days following his 10th start of the season.
With Wall only one win from capturing the program’s first Group III championship in 15 years, however, nothing was going to stop Dombroski from taking the ball for the final game of his and his classmates’ high-school careers. The senior left-hander got his shoulder loose enough to make his final start, in which he overcame some spotty defense and five hits by West Morris and benefited from a big offensive day for his lineup in a 10-2 Wall win to clinch the title.
It was not the most dominant start of Dombroski’s career, yet it was still vintage. He allowed two unearned runs on those five hits, struck out eight batters and did not walk any. Three years after debuting as a sophomore closer, Dombroski closed out Wall’s biggest win in 15 years and one of the great individual pitching seasons the Shore has ever seen.
Dombroski’s ability to limit walks has been his most glaringly excellent attribute over his three varsity seasons. Last year’s 71-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio was among the Shore’s best but it wasn’t the awe-inspiring mark that Luca Dalatri – a four-year standout at Christian Brothers Academy, a two-time draft MLB Draft pick in 2016 and 2019, and a fellow Wall native – put up over his final three seasons pitching for the Shore power.
This year, however, Dombroski did reach Dalatri levels of dominance with his command and his strikeout ability, all while keeping earned runs off the board at an even better clip than his Pitcher-of-the-Year predecessor. In 76 innings this season, Dombroski struck out 126 and walked only five – including just one over his final 61 2/3 innings and none in his final eight starts.
Dombroski did not throw the number of innings Dalatri did over his last three years of high-school baseball and Dalatri’s 330-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that span is a mark that is almost unmatchable. Dombroski, though, was even better at keeping runs off the board, edging Dalatri in career ERA and WHIP, albeit against different schedules.
Trey Dombroski Career Stats
Luca Dalatri, 2014-16
The comparisons to a pitcher with perhaps the greatest Shore Conference career ever might be far-fetched or even unfair, but they are fairer than comparing Dombroski to the rest of the Shore Conference pitchers who played in 2019. Dombroski’s 126 strikeouts were 42 more than the next closest pitcher (Nick Guzzi of Point Pleasant Boro); his 0.37 ERA was 0.29 better than any other pitcher to throw more than 40 innings; his 25.2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate was more than twice as good as the next best mark (11-to-1 by Jackson Memorial sophomore Matt Potok). Finally, his 11 wins were two better than Guzzi and four more than the group that finish tied for third.
Dombroski finished his career as Wall’s all-time leader in wins (25) and strikeouts (228) while losing just twice in three years. Last year, he gave up four runs in a 4-1 loss to Howell that was effectively a tune-up game between the Shore Conference Tournament cutoff and the start of the NJSIAA Tournament. This season’s loss was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of CBA in the Monmouth County Tournament quarterfinals. Dombroski held CBA to five hits and no walks while striking out nine and gave up the winning run on a two-out, first-and-third double-steal in the top of the seventh inning.
There wasn’t much of a difference between Dombroski’s 11 wins and his loss to CBA, which ended a run of 32 2/3 innings without an earned run to open the season. In his prior start, he pitched six shutout innings with three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts in a win over Colts Neck, which was his first start in which he did not strike out more than 10 batters. He opened the season with 14 strikeouts in six shutout, one-hit innings vs. St. John Vianney, followed that up with an eight-inning, two-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts and no walks vs. Red Bank, and struck out 14 more over six innings vs. Ocean.
After the CBA loss, Dombroski got back to his winning ways with a one-hitter, no walks and 16 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Middletown North. He tuned up for the state tournament with a four-hitter and 11 strikeouts vs. Holy Spirit.
Dombroski’s first NJSIAA Tournament start was short-but-sweet. Wall hammered Lawrence, 14-0, in five innings and Dombroski pitched the first and only no-hitter of his high school career. He allowed just one base-runner on a hit batter and struck out seven in the five-inning no-no.
Wall had to go on the road in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals and with the threat of rain, Dombroski and Co. had a small window with which to get the job done. Although he gave up his second earned run of the year and six hits, Dombroski breezed through the game with 12 strikeouts to beat the top seed, 4-1.
His last two starts came with some challenges against Cherry Hill West and West Morris, but Dombroski finished strong each time. He struck out two in a one-two-three seventh vs. Cherry Hill West and broke the Wall career strikeout mark with the seventh of his eight strikeouts vs. West Morris.
Dombroski will continue his career close to home when he heads to Monmouth University in the fall to begin what should be an anticipated college career coming off one of the great high-school careers in the Shore’s recent history.