Leesville, Millbrook earn wins at inaugural Chris Combs Classic
Posted 12:22 a.m. Friday
Updated 3:47 p.m. Friday
Raleigh, N.C. — Four Raleigh high school baseball teams met Thursday night for a doubleheader in to honor Chris Combs, a Broughton and NC State alumnus who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis last spring.
The inaugural event – named the Chris Combs Classic – featured an evening game between Leesville Road and Sanderson, and a match under the lights between Millbrook and Broughton at NC State's Doak Field.
There is currently not a cure for ALS, but Combs said the continued support from the community and new events to raise awareness is a welcomed distraction to the reality of the disease.
“I think more and more people are learning about ALS, and the fact that there’s still no cure. Being a rare disease, I don’t think a lot of people know the details, which are not fun to think about. For me, staying involved and keeping it going with different events keeps my mind off the bad parts associated with it.”
Combs, an associate director of NC State’s Wolfpack Club, graduated from Broughton in 1993 before becoming a standout baseball player for the Red and White.
NC State’s baseball team will bring Combs along for its trip to Fenway Park on Saturday for Boston College’s annual ALS Awareness Game. Combs and former Boston College captain Pete Frates – diagnosed in 2012 – will be honored at the ballpark.
“With there not being a cure, we need as many people as possible in our corner,” Combs said. “To see the support – I went to Broughton, so it makes sense for them. But to see Leesville, Sanderson and Millbrook, and how much enthusiasm they have to go out and help us means so much. I can’t thank them enough.”
Leesville took the first game of the afternoon against Sanderson, downing the Spartans, 16-2, and Combs’ Alma matter dropped the second game of the doubleheader, 11-2, to Millbrook.
Leesville hammers Sanderson, 16-2
Leesville outmuscled Sanderson start the doubleheader Thursday afternoon, trouncing the Spartans, 16-2, to sweep the season series.
“We’re swinging the bats really well,” said Leesville head coach Guy Civitello. “That’s not the normal Leesville-Sanderson game – as long as I’ve known it. We came out hot, continued it and just ran into some.”
Neither team lit the scoreboard in the first inning, but the Pride scored 16 runs through the next three frames to close the game out early in the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule.
Leesville’s Landon Choboy started the scoring in the second inning with a grand slam – his second of the season – that sailed over the left field wall.
“I just saw it inside and got my hands though; it was a good pitch,” Choboy said. “I was seeing the ball well and hitting it, there’s nothing else to it.”
Choboy finished 3-for-4 from the plate with a game-high six RBI Thursday night.
The Pride added three more runs in the third inning with Shawn Sergeant RBI single, Matt Wagner sac fly and passed ball that scored Jared Leins.
Sanderson led off the fourth with a double off the bat of Robbie Houston to start a rally of its own.
Alim McNeill grounded out to first but scored Dylan Bollinger in the process, and Jacob Rosenfeld later singled to score Houston to trim the Leesville lead to 7-2.
But despite the Spartans’ efforts, Leesville made Sanderson pay after loading the bases for the third-consecutive inning.
The Pride scratched across nine runs in the fifth frame, forcing the Spartans to use three pitching changes in the inning.
The Spartans’ starting pitcher Jaxon Bunton was replaced by reliever Bennett Montgomery after back-to-back RBI doubles from Ronald Evans and Leins.
Sanderson used three pitching changes in the bottom of the fourth to try and combat the Pride’s hot bats, but Leesville had an answer for nearly everything thrown its way.
Leesville staring pitcher Will Sandie earned the win for the Pride Thursday night. Sandie tossed four scoreless innings, striking out five batters with one walk and two earned runs.
Civitello said he’s only recently met Combs, but is honored that the Pride were selected to participate in the inaugural event.
“We’re just proud to be a part of it, and we want to contribute in any way that we possibly can,” Civitello said. “We’ll take part in this event for as long as they’ll invite us.”
Millbrook topples Broughton, 11-2
Millbrook used a 10-run fourth inning to burry Broughton en route to an 11-2 victory in the latter half of Thursday’s double-header.
“It just felt different all day coming into this game because we knew it was going to be a talk in-between games, and the Combs family is special to both of these programs,” James said. We were just honored to be a part of it.“
Justin Wilcoxen led the way for the Wildcats, going 3-for-5 with three hit and four RBI. Will Gamble also tallied a multi-RBI night, driving in two runs on two hits.
Both teams posted donuts on the scoreboard through the first three innings, but the Wildcats exploded with 10 run in the fourth.
Millbrook used four RBI singles, back-to-back RBI doubles and a fielders choice to pad build its lead in the inning.
Due to the 10-run rules, the Wildcats could’ve closed the game out with three outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the motivated Capitals fought back with two runs in the second half of the frame.
Millbrook starting pitcher Seth Werner hit the first batter of the inning and walked two more to load the bases with two outs.
Wildcats’ manager Austin James elected to send out Christian Miller in relief of Werner, but Miller walked the first batter he faced and surrendered a single to the next batter.
Millbrook added an insurance run in the fifth inning to put a cap on the lopsided victory.
James said Thursday’s matchup was far more than just a baseball game, but a way for two rivals to come together in support of a special cause.
“When these guys approached us to be part of this game it was a no-brainer … who cares about the win,” James said. “It was just special that we were here and a part of this effort, teaming up with this team that we’ve been playing against for decades to do something special.”