When Rorey Combs needed to come up with a big pitch, the Truman High School sophomore found a way to dig deep inside and to deliver.
The same was true for his William Chrisman counterpart, freshman Will Fisher.
They provided all the makings of a good, ol’ fashioned pitchers’ duel Tuesday afternoon at Truman High School, where the Patriots used a first-inning unearned run to claim a one-hour, six-minute 1-0 victory.
“Wow, this reminds me of the days when the bats had no juice in them,” Truman coach John Eglich quipped. “Our bats haven’t had much juice all season, but we were able to score one run today and Rorey made it stand up.
“I was talking to (longtime assistant coach) Pete Hile and told him this was a Rick Berlin (former Truman head coach whom Eglich played for) type of game. Good pitching, good fielding. Their kid did a great job on the mound and so did Rorey.”
Combs finished with five strikeouts, and three came to end an inning with the tying or go-ahead runs on second or third base, including a strikeout to end the game with the tying run on second.
“I just dug down and worked a little harder when they had men on base,” said Combs, a left-handed sophomore who had a nasty curve and a pinpoint fastball. “I didn’t really feel like I needed to strike out a lot of the batters because my defense was doing such a great job backing me up.
“But I knew I had to be careful, because I didn’t want to throw a mistake pitch. Their kid was pitching so well, I kind of had the feeling it would be a low-scoring game.”
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Combs doubled and scored on an infield error on a ball hit by Van Oswald.
“At the time, you aren’t thinking that’s going to be winning run in the game,” Eglich said after his young team improved to 6-15. “It was a throwback game, a fun game to watch and coach. Both of the teams should be proud of the way they played.”
Bears coach J.R. Wells, who played baseball for Chrisman, agreed with his Truman counterpart.
“I just told the guys that that was close to being the fastest game ever at Chrisman,” Wells said after his team fell to 5-19. “We played Fort Osage in a 59-minute game. Today’s game was close. That game against Fort Osage was also a 1-0 game.
“Their pitcher is just a sophomore and he did a great job, and what can you say about Will? You could never tell he was a freshman the way he pitched today. He got the ball and threw strikes, and for the most part, the guys did a nice job defensively.
“We outhit them (seven to four), but once again, we couldn’t come up with the big hit when we really needed it.”
The Bears’ best chance came in the top of the fourth when Eli Henderson and Jake Farrell singled and advanced to second and third with two outs.
But Combs came up with a big inning-ending strikeout to quell the threat.
“We both pitched well today,” the soft-spoken Fisher said. “I knew if I threw strikes we could get them out. I wish we would have won, but at least we played well.”