Cam Domblisky stuffed his hands in the pockets of his hoodie and paced the dugout after his time on the mound came to an end in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s senior pitcher left the game with his team trailing by just one. But, as the inning progressed, Domblisky found it harder and harder to watch beneath his shaded glasses. He feared his career might be winding down — and those concerns proved to be warranted.
Behind a five-run sixth inning, with Domblisky looking on from the bench, Central beat P-O 7-3 during Tuesday’s District 6 Class 3A semifinals. The Dragons advance to play Huntingdon in the district championship at a time and date to be announced.
“It was tough,” Domblisky said, wiping his eyes beneath his transition lenses. “As soon as it started to go downhill, I didn’t want to watch anymore. I knew it was the last game of the year, the last game of my career.”
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Domblisky left the mound with Central clinging to a 2-1 lead. After opening up the bottom of the sixth with a walk and a single — and with Domblisky appearing fatigued — P-O opted to try a reliever. But the momentum had already shifted.
Reliever Josh Earnest allowed a line-drive single, just inches over the third baseman’s glove, to load the bases with no outs. Two errors, another walk and another single led to the Dragons extending the lead to 7-1.
“I don’t know exactly when the game turned,” said P-O freshman Keegan Soltis, who had a game-high three hits. “But if you load the bases, no outs, for sure they’re going to score.”
Domblisky remained calm, essentially trading strolling back-and-forth in the dugout for a seat on the bench. He remained stoic for the rest of the game, even as tempers flared in the infield. During P-O’s second error that inning, the umpire ruled a sliding Central baserunner out at the plate — but, after noticing the dropped ball rolling away from the catcher, he changed his call to safe.
The Mounties’ catcher thew his mask in the dirt, shouting, “Are you kidding me? C’mon!” Central’s head coach then approached the ump over the catcher’s outburst, causing the visiting crowd to boo and jeer behind the third-base line.
“After I let those two on,” Domblisky said, trailing off. “They’re a good team. They’re going to capitalize off that.”
Domblisky tried to shoulder the blame after the loss, but it was still difficult to find issue with his effort. He allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out four. And, again, he left the mound with his team trailing 2-1.
“He pitched well enough to win,” P-O coach Doug Sankey added. “He had some trouble with his curveball today, but he threw well against a really good team.”
Domblisky proved to be a quiet leader for the Mounties this year. No matter how much he threw, be it at practice or in a game, he’d always come back the next day and tell his coaches he felt fine. Even when he passed the pitch count limit, he’d still insist, “I’m good, I’m good.”
The senior would never quit — and that’s what made sitting in the dugout Tuesday so much harder. Domblisky just looked on in the last two innings and hoped for the best. But in the top of the seventh, right after Central’s five-run inning, the dugout chatter quieted. The Mounties rallied slightly, scoring two runs, but most naturally had their doubts with overcoming a 7-1 deficit.
After the game, P-O quietly shook the Dragons’ hands, stretched and then listened to Sankey tell them how much they all meant to them. Some of the seniors sobbed; other teammates just hugged. It wasn’t the way the Mounties wanted to end the season but, even for Domblisky, he refused to call this the end — either for his career or for P-O.
“(Sankey) said to keep working hard, and I’m playing next year in college,” said Domblisky, who’s headed to Mt. Aloysius. “So I’m going to keep that with me. I’m going to work hard every day this offseason, every day next year.”
And for the team next year and the players who do return? “They’re going to keep getting better,” Domblisky added. “And the next few years are going to be pretty good.”