By Karen Billing
A 7-year-old Solana Beach Little League player recently pulled off an amazing unassisted triple play. Luca Bombelli, of the AA Division Braves, put his baseball smarts to good use, accomplishing something that has only been done 15 times in Major League Baseball history.
“I’ve never seen an unassisted triple play,” said Coach Tom Nicholas. “I was just floored and he did it all by himself. I don’t know if we’ll ever see something like that again.”
On Thursday, March 24, Luca’s Braves were playing the Mets. It was the bottom of the last inning and the Braves were up by two. The Mets had loaded up the bases with no outs, threatening to take the lead.
The batter hit a “high fly looper” to the third base side. Luca reacted, reaching his glove up over his head and snagging the ball blind.
“At first I caught the pop fly, then I tagged the base which got the guy coming back to third out. And then, for some reason, someone was running from second to third so I tagged him out,” Luca said.
Nicholas said that every Mets coach and player was yelling “Go back! Go back” to the base runner but it was too late—Luca got him.
“The game was over. Everyone was happy because it was the last play of the game and it made us win,” Luca said.
Nicholas has been coaching little league for 10 years, his older son went through and now he is coaching his youngest. He said coaching little league, especially the 6-9 year old AA lot, is a “laugh a minute” and the coaches are never quite sure if the players are really listening and understanding their instruction of the game. Luca’s play proved he has been listening, Nicholas said.
“He knew what was going on,” Nicholas said. “Luca just figured it out, which is really cool because we’ve been working with the kids to make smart decisions. He must’ve grabbed onto something.”
This season is only the Del Mar Heights second grader’s second year of baseball. He said he likes hitting the best and has tried playing every position but pitcher—as his head’s up play proved, the hot corner may be his specialty spot.
“We have some real good players,” Luca said of the Braves. “We’ve never lost and we have a good time playing.”