Serra freshman tosses no-hitter to down Monessen
For a high school freshman, Cole McCombs is looking like an upperclassman.
And a pretty good one, at that.
McCombs pitched a no-hitter Wednesday to lead No. 4 Serra Catholic to a 4-0 victory over visiting Monessen in a WPIAL Section 2-A game.
McCombs (2-1) struck out 14 and walked one, giving the 15-year-old lefthander 36 strikeouts and six walks in 16 1⁄3 innings for Serra Catholic (4-3, 2-0).
“He's been remarkable,” Serra Catholic coach Brian Dzurenda said. “This is the first year he's pitched off a mound from 60 feet, 6 inches.”
McCombs played at the Pony level in 2013 in the Greenfield Baseball Association summer league, where home plate is just 54 feet from the rubber, but said he always knew he could adjust to major league distance.
“I've been working at it since I was probably 5 years old,” he said. “I'd throw in the backyard with my dad or with anyone who would throw with me. Every time I watched baseball on TV, I'd just wanted to go out and start pitching.”
McCombs baffled Monessen (2-4, 1-1) on an assortment of five pitches. Asked to reveal his repertoire, he didn't hesitate.
“Four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curve, slider and changeup,” he said.
Did you use all of them today?
And, were they working, young man?
Dzurenda said McCombs has been getting instruction of late from ex-major league righthander David Lee, the former Langley star who attended Division II Mercyhurst and appeared in a total of 96 big-league games during parts of five seasons with the Rockies, Padres and Indians.
“His curve ball had us off-balance,” Monessen coach Billy Matush said of McCombs. “He pitched a good ball game.”
Serra Catholic took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Noah Kinser's sacrifice fly after the Eagles loaded the bases on walks to Jake Eged and Marty Slovonic and a single by McCombs.
They made it 4-0 with a three-run fourth. Brandon Coddington singled and was forced at second before Zac Quattrone doubled to left, putting runners at second and third. Both scored on a bloop single by Ben Davis, who later came home on a single by Eged.
McCombs' hitless performance didn't come without a bit of debate in the sixth, when Serra Catholic nearly turned a triple play.
Monessen's Nathaniel Moon reached on a error when Davis failed to field Moon's groundball to third base to lead off the inning. Tyler Shash then hit a sharp grounder that Davis backhanded behind the bag with Moon breaking for second.
Davis elected to go to second for the force, but Moon beat the throw and Shash reached first. The play was scored a fielder's choice.
Another spectacular play by Serra Catholic shortstop Coddington nearly snuffed the rally. Coddington caught a line drive to by Monessen's Brandon Lenhart, took several steps to his left to double off Moon at second but threw wildly to first in an attempt to nab Shash for the third out on a close play.
Another Monessen strikeout against McCombs ended the inning. McCombs struck out nine of the first 10 Monessen batters, including seven in a row at one point.
“This is the most strikeouts he's had and the most innings he's pitched in a game,” Dzurenda said.
Earlier, McCombs struck out 12 in a five-inning outing, resulting in a 10-0 victory over Springdale, and he had 10 in five innings of a 6-0 loss to Class AAAA Allderdice.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.