Bryan Station pitcher Ryne Combs flirted with a perfect game and made quick work of Lafayette with a dominating performance in a 1-0 high school baseball victory on Thursday night.
Combs, a senior left-hander who has signed with Kentucky, retired the first 15 batters he faced, seven on strikeouts and the other eight on either infield pop-ups or ground-outs.
Was perfection on Combs' mind at that point?
"I tried not to think about," he said. "I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes."
Kylon Nelson spoiled the perfect game when he led off the sixth with a bunt single. But he wasn't on base for long. The Defenders' ace picked him off before the next pitch.
Combs, who was given a 1-0 lead in the first inning, gave up a one-out single to Graham Carmack in the seventh, but he promptly picked him off, too.
Lafayette's Anderson Miller grounded a single through the right side with two outs to keep the Generals' hopes alive. He went to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
With the tying run 90 feet from home, Combs admitted he was "a little bit nervous."
It didn't show. He got a strikeout to end the game, which took only an hour and 45 minutes.
Combs finished with nine strikeouts, giving him 78 K's in 50 innings this year. He improved his record to 7-1, with an 0.56 earned run average.
"Everything was working for me," he said. "I got ahead in the count. From there it was kind of cake."
Combs was part of Bryan Station's manufactured run in the first inning. He drew a lead-off walk and went to second when Michael Bollmer was hit by a pitch. Devin Key came on to pinch-run for Combs as a courtesy runner. After moving to third on a fielder's choice, Key scored when Brandon Mayle-George hit a scorching grounder to short that Andy Gumm couldn't handle.
Lafayette starter Jes Staples, a senior lefty, gave up only four singles, four walks and struck out seven in 42⁄3 innings. Austin Messner blanked the Defenders the rest of the way.
Bryan Station Coach Eddie Brooks, whose team is rated No. 9 in the state, said low-scoring games are a way of life in the city. "Every team has a guy who can shut you down. You go in figuring out how to get one run, and then hope your defense and pitching can shut them down."
Lafayette Coach Chris Langston was proud of the way his team tried to chip away at Combs.
"The way he was pitching tonight, you could've seen 15 or 16 strikeouts. I felt like we did a good job putting the bat on the ball, but they made all the plays."
No. 10 Lafayette has been playing well lately. In the last 10 days it has beaten No. 3 Male, No. 5 Bowling Green, No. 9 Madison Central and No. 18 Tates Creek.
Lafayette 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Bryan Station 100 000 x — 1 5 1
Jes Staples, Austin Messner (5) and Jason Fergerson. Ryne Combs and Jordan Lewis. W--Combs. L--Staples.
Records: Lafayette 17-8; Bryan Station 20-7