Baseball – Dombroski, Wall Primed for Group III Championship on Saturday
NJSIAA Group III Championship
At Veterans Park, Hamilton
Saturday, June 8, 2019, 4 p.m.
Wall (26-4) vs. West Morris (26-6)
After narrowly escaping vs. Cherry Hill West on Monday, Wall and senior ace Trey Dombroski will step back into the spotlight in Saturday’s third game of the state final quadruple-header on DeMeo Field. Win or lose, it will mark the end of one of the Shore’s best pitching careers of the past two decades and a win would add a new dimension to Dombroski’s legacy, as well as a fourth NJSIAA Group Championship trophy to Wall’s trophy case and first since 2004.
Since rising to the varsity level as a sophomore, Dombroski has produced consistent excellence and has taken his craft to new heights as a senior. He will seek his 11th win of the 2019 season and 25th for his career on Saturday and can break the school’s career strikeout mark with nine strikeouts. He has only struck out fewer than nine batters in a start twice this season – once in his five-inning no-hitter in the opening-round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Tournament and again on Monday against a hard-nosed Cherry Hill West lineup.
While Dombroski has been the central figure in Wall’s run over the past three seasons, he is just one member of a standout senior class that has produced a 67-17 record since 2017. Up until this season, however, the Crimson Knights had only won a single division championship in Class B North, coming up short during the postseason tournaments in both 2017 and 2018, followed by a quarterfinal exit in the Monmouth County Tournament this season.
The Crimson Knights senior class finally got their tournament championship by rolling over Northern Burlington, 10-2, in the Central Jersey Group III championship in the one state tournament game in which Dombroski did not pitch. If the Monmouth-University-bound ace can deliver one last time on Saturday and Wall finishes off a 27-win season with a Group III title, it would be awfully hard to deny this group of seniors got made the most of their opportunity in their four years.
Senior Grant Shulman has been the standout at the plate during the tournament, going 9-for-17 with a double, triple, six runs and five RBI in the five-game run to the championship. Junior Teddy Sharkey has also made an impact with his bat during the tournament, going 5-for-14 with four doubles, six runs scored and two RBI.
In the other dugout, West Morris will be playing in the group championship for the first time in program history following its first ever sectional championship. The Wolfpack made school history by beating Nutley on a game-winning infield single in the bottom of the ninth to win the North Jersey Section 2, Group III championship.
Like Wall, West Morris boasts an experienced lineup, led by Saturday’s starting pitcher. Senior right-hander Connor Staine is a Maryland University commit and has been the team’s undisputed ace from the start in 2019. If a team is going to overcome Dombroski to win a state championship, it helps to have a bulldog on the mound to lead the pack, which is what Staine has proven to be.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Trey Dombroski, Sr., LHP (10-1, 0.41 ERA, 69 IP, 118, 5 BB)
Connor Staine, Sr., RHP (6-1, 0.81 ERA, 60 1/3 IP, 68 K, 23 BB)
First Out of the Bullpen
Teddy Sharkey (6-0, 0.80 ERA, 43 2/3 IP, 68 K, 20 BB)
Tyler Weeks (7-1, 1.76 ERA, 39 2/3 IP, 18 K, 10 BB)
Around the Diamond
Dave Howarth, Sr., C (.325/.443/.416, 7 2B, 19 RBI)
Tanner Powers, Sr., 1B (.275/.358/.313, 3 2B, 12 R, 17 RBI)
Dylan Richey, Sr., 2B (.253/.314/.278, 2 2B, 15 R, 13 RBI, 8 SB)
John Volpe, Sr., SS (.308/.453/.363, 5 2B, 37 R, 7 RBI, 13 SB)
Grant Shulman, Sr., 3B (.404/.482/.543, 6 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 25 R, 23 RBI, 12 SB)
Sean Nocera, Jr., LF (.352/.471/.394, 3 2B, 15 R, 16 RBI)
Teddy Sharkey, Jr., CF (.405/.557/.619, 11 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 23 R, 22 RBI)
John Iradi, Sr., RF (.265/.468/.618, 4 HR, 8 R, 12 RBI)
Jay Bant, So., DH/3B (.333/.396/.464, 5 2B, 2 HR, 16 R, 25 RBI)
Matt Blount, Sr., C (.171, 2 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBI)
Anthony Grauso, Sr., 1B (.121, 1 2B, 10 R)
James Turkus, Jr., 2B (.290, 6 2B, 1 HR, 21 R, 13 RBI)
Aidan Healy, Sr., SS (.378, 6 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 36 R, 33 RBI, 11 SB)
Matt Gluck, Jr., 3B (.260, 3 2B, 1 HR, 34 R, 18 RBI, 12 SB)
Nick Calabrese, Sr., LF (.337, 5 2B, 1 HR, 35 R, 15 RBI, 26 SB)
Nick Masi, Jr., CF (.203, 1 2B, 12 R, 9 RBI, 12 SB)
Kevin Kennedy, Sr., RF (.488, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 18 R, 39 RBI)
Connor Staine, Sr., RHP (.318, 7 2B, 3 HR, 9 R, 23 RBI)
Jackson Yeatts, Sr., DH (.340, 5 2B, 6 R, 7 RBI)
Road to the Final
Central Group III First Round: Trey Dombroski pitched his first career no-hitter, a five-inning gem in which he struck out seven and allowed one base-runner on a hit-by-pitch. It might have been a seven-inning no-no if not for Wall’s offense, which broke out the big lumber in a 14-0 win over No. 13 Lawrence. Grant Shulman led the way with a 4-for-4 performance with a triple and two RBI.
Sectional Quarterfinals: Facing a fifth-seeded Colts Neck team with a menacing lineup that took down Wall during the regular season, Teddy Sharkey handcuffed the Cougars after giving up a first-inning run and Dombroski closed out the final three innings to give the Crimson Knights a 3-1 win over their Class B North rival.
Sectional Semifinals: Dombroski made his third appearance in three games and allowed just his second earned run of the season in the bottom of the third inning. Despite the blemish in the run column, it was Dombroski’s best performance of the tournament considering the opponent, the circumstances and the importance of the game. The left-hander settled into a groove over the final four innings and pitched a six-hitter with 12 strikeouts and no walks on 90 pitches as Wall knocked off top-seeded Hamilton West, 4-1 before the heavy rains came later in the evening.
Sectional Final: With Dombroski unavailable for the only time during the tournament, Wall made sure it would not need an ace-like performance by striking for nine runs in the first four innings on the way to a 10-2 win over No. 11 Northern Burlington – the program’s first sectional title since 2008. Although they didn’t need it, the Crimson Knights still got an ace-like outing from Sharkey, who allowed two unearned runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and five walks before turning it over to Shulman for the final four outs. Shulman was 2-for-2 with a double, two runs and two RBI, while junior Sean Nocera and sophomore Jay Bant also drove in two runs each and senior shortstop John Volpe went 2-for-3 with three runs.
Group Semifinal: Cherry Hill West made Dombroski work harder than he had to in any of his 10 wins on the season, tagging him for a season-high two earned runs and a career-high nine hits. The Wall left-hander still found a way, though, striking out seven with no walks to finish a complete game and a 4-3 Crimson Knights win over the South Jersey Group III champs. Senior right fielder John Iradi had the big swing of the game in the form of a three-run home run in the bottom of the second to stake Wall to a 4-0 lead that just barely held up.
North 2, Group III First Round: Aidan Healy homered and drove in four runs and James Turkus doubled twice and drove in three to key the Wolfpack to an 11-4 win over No. 16 Warren Hills.
Sectional Quarterfinals: West Morris pulled a 3-2, nine-inning win over No. 9 Chatham out of the fire with two runs in the bottom of the seventh and a walkoff walk in the ninth to escape the upset threat. Turkus went 2-for-3 for the second straight game with a double, while Kevin Kennedy and Nick Masi each went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Connor Stain gave up one earned run over the first six innings and Nick Calabrese picked up the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
Sectional Semifinals: Kennedy, Staine and Turkus each drove in two runs, Staine and Calabrese each went 2-for-3, and Calabrese, Staine, Turkus and Matt Gluck each doubled in West Morris’s 8-5 win over No. Millburn. Calabrese was sharp over the first three, one-hit innings, striking out six and walking three while allowing one run.
Sectional Final: Calabrese beat out an infield single as Turkus crossed the plate with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth and the Wolfpack beat No. 2 Nutley, 2-1, to win the program’s first ever sectional title in thrilling fashion. Healy was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1, while Staine shook off an unearned first-inning run to pitch 8 2/3 innings with three hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Group Semifinal: Kennedy tripled home a run early and Masi contributed to the tying run in the fourth and go-ahead run in the fifth as West Morris beat local rival Roxbury, 5-4, to reach the Group III final for the first time in program history. Masi singled, stole second, stole third and scored on a throwing error on the steal of third to tie the game in the fourth. The next inning, he knocked in the go-ahead run with an RBI single. Tyler Week pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win in relief.