Baseball – Dombroski’s Gem Baffles RBC, Keeps No. 2 Wall Unbeaten
RED BANK - Wall junior left-hander Trey Dombroski has already been a Shore Sports Network All-Shore pitcher and is verbally committed to play at Monmouth University, but even a polished pitcher like Dombroski can reach another level, as he is showing during the early stages of the 2018 season.
For the second straight game, Dombroski set a career-high in strikeouts Tuesday at Count Basie Park against Red Bank Catholic, punching out 11 Caseys in a two-hitter and 5-1 win for the still-unbeaten Crimson Knights - the No. 2 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.
With Dombroski and the rest of the staff dealing early on Wall is unbeaten through five games and has allowed six runs total and just three earned - all with a roster comprised mostly of juniors like the Crimson Knights starter on Tuesday.
"It's the competition," Dombroski said of the secret to Wall's success so far. "Everyone is competing. If you're not working hard, there is someone there to take your job, which is a bad feeling and a good feeling in some respects."
As a sophomore, Dombroski established a reputation as young left-hander with advance control of the strike zone. He led the Shore Conference in earned-run average at 0.47 and walked only six batters in his 44 2/3 innings.
While he was nearly impossible to score upon last year, Dombroski did not overpower hitters. He struck out 31 and despite pitching seven or more innings in five of his six starts, Dombroski's single-game high was seven strikeouts.
With a year to add muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame, Dombroski has opened his junior year with an ability to overwhelm hitters that was not there last year. He already has two seven-inning two-hitters in his two starts and the only thing that prevented him from nailing down two two-hit shutouts was a two-out, dropped pop-up on the infield during the seventh inning on Tuesday.
The dominance this year has been thanks to the strikeout, more specifically thanks to a fastball that hitters are having trouble squaring up, both according to Dombroski and according to the results on Tuesday. He struck out 10 Monmouth hitters in his first start of the season on Thursday while walking just one and topped that number with 11 punchouts against two walks five days later.
"Over the offseason, I put some weight on and my velocity went up, which is a great feeling," Dombroski said. "Last year, I wasn't really a hard-thrower and I relied on my curveball most of the time, but this year, I'm relying on my fastball. Now the curveball is my secondary pitch and it just feels great to have that fastball to work off of."
Dombroski's first three strikeouts of Tuesday's 11-strikeout affair and four of his first five ended with curveballs and then the junior turned to his fastball. His next five strikeouts came on fastballs and all five were swinging strike threes.
"Once I started getting strikes with the fastball, it was like, 'Alright, I've got to keep going with it,'" Dombroski said. "Maybe I'd get a strike with the curveball to get ahead, which is always a great feeling to be able to do that."
Red Bank Catholic third baseman Ryan O'Hara led off the fifth inning with a single up the middle to end a no-hit bid by Dombroski and he went on to allow two baserunners to reach in both the fifth and sixth innings. RBC shortstop Vincent Bianchi doubled down the left-field line in the sixth and scored on the dropped pop-up.
After laboring through the sixth inning and entering the seventh at 89 pitches, Dombroski struck out the side, in order, on 13 pitches to cap his career-high in punchouts.
"To be honest, I didn't even know about (the no-hitter)," Dombroski said. "When I'm out there, it's just throw strikes and help my team win. The other team is going to get some hits, but I just try to do my best for the team and I felt like I did that today."
Wall gave its left-handed hurler an early advantage and as was the case throughout the game, it was the bottom half of the order that did the job. With the bases loaded in the second inning, right fielder and No. 9 hitter Doug Wetzel hit a slicing drive to right field that tailed out of the reach of his Caseys counterpart, David Glancy, and landed fair near the line. The one-out double plated Andy Lenneper and Tanner Powers with the first two runs of the game.
Wetzel finished the game 2-for-3 and was part of a 5-through-9 of the Wall lineup that went a combined 10-for-17 with four of the five runs scored and three RBI. No. 7 hitter and first baseman Tanner Powers was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI single in the fifth while left fielder and No. 7 hitter Andy Lenneper went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
On Lenneper's fifth-inning double, Red Bank Catholic left fielder Nick Merlo gunned down Wall third baseman Grant Shulman at third base with a throw from the left-field fence to third base in the air, which prevented another run from scoring on Powers's subsequent RBI single. Lenneper slid around the tag of RBC catcher Chris Sparber after a strong throw home by Glancy on the Powers single.
Wall scored its third run on a bases-loaded catcher's interference call after a swing by Teddy Sharkey caught Sparber's glove.
Wall collected 13 hits on Tuesday, including 12 against Red Bank Catholic ace Austin Nappi. Nappi lost just one decision last year and was the victim of two unearned runs, but the approach of the Wall lineup kept the Caseys right-hander in trouble for much of his outing.
"Our whole thing is protect the zone, do the best we can and put the ball in play," Schmitt said. "That shows you how our guys are not selfish hitters. They try to put the ball in play - whether it's going the other way or whether they can turn on it."
After another win Tuesday and a loss by Christian Brothers Academy, Wall is now one of only four unbeaten teams remaining in the Shore Conference, joining Jackson Memorial (5-0), Jackson Liberty (3-0) and Toms River East (3-0). CBA entered the week as the No. 1 team in the Shore and Wall call stake its claim to that title by beating the Colts when the two clash Saturday at Central Regional for the Strike Out Autism event.
After throwing more than 100 pitches, Dombroski will not be able to come back to pitch vs. CBA, per the NJSIAA pitch count regulations, but Wall has had no shortage of pitching options on which to lean early in the season. Both Shulman and fellow junior right-hander Ryan Napolitano have been impressive over the past two seasons and Sharkey - a dominant closer as a freshman last year - has yet to pitch this season.
"We just keep running them out there and they keep doing the job," Schmitt said. "We've got some guys that haven't even thrown yet who we think are pretty good too. Sharkey hasn't touched the ball, Powers pitched well for us last year, so we'll take it while we can."
No. 2 Wall 5, Red Bank Catholic 1
|Wall (5-0, 3-0)||0||2||0||1||1||1||0||5||13||2|
|RBC (2-2, 2-2)||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||2||3|
|Trey Dombroski (W, 2-0)||7||2||0||0||2||11||102|
|Red Bank Catholic||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO||PC|
|Austin Nappi (L, 1-1)||6||12||5||3||0||2||86|
|Tanner Powers||3-4, 2 R, RBI|
|Doug Wetzel||2-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, SB|
|Andy Lenneper||2-4, 2B, 2 R|
|Red Bank Catholic||Stats|
|Vincent Bianchi||1-2, 2B, BB, R|