The old saying practice makes perfect sure applies to Christian Brothers Academy’s sophomore right-hander Luca Dalatri.
Utilizing a delivery he says he has been working on since he was 7 years old, Dalatri has become one of the state’s dominant pitchers.
“I’ve never really changed anything,” Dalatri said. “It’s just me working on it every single year and working on different things. It’s just a accumulation of all the things I’ve been working on.”
Dalatri’s latest gem came Saturday in a Monmouth County Tournament quarterfinal-round game against top seed Wall, which is also the No. 1-ranked team in the Asbury Park Press Top 10. Dalatri fired a six-inning two-hitter and struck out eight and walked two to improve to 6-0 as the No. 8 seed Colts rolled to an 11-0, six-inning win.
In this era of many pitchers being coached privately by a pitching instructor, Dalatri said his delivery was something he and his father, Rich, developed on their own. Rich Dalatri was the strength and conditioning coach for the then New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, of the NBA for 30 years.
“The way I throw, I feel I use a lot more legs,” said Dalatri, who has now struck out 54 and walked five on the season. “I feel like I throw 75 percent to 25 percent with the legs, rather than the arm. I just feel when I throw like that I put less stress on the arm and I can go deeper into games and keep the velocity up, instead of using my arm more.”
CBA coach Marty Kenney said Dalatri’s mechanics were sound before he even entered high school.
“He had great mechanics as a freshman,” said Kenney, who is New Jersey’s fourth all-time winningest coach with 721. “He repeats his mechanics, which is what you want as a pitcher. It’s one of the reasons he throws as well as he does and has the control he does.”
It also helps Dalatri that he completely understands the nuances of what it takes to be a pitcher, Kenney said.
“He’s very mature when it comes to baseball,” Kenney said. “He has a routine that he believes in. He sticks with it. When it comes to baseball, he’s not a 15- or 16-year-old. he’s a 20-, 22-year-old. You usually don’t have players that mature at that age.”
Kenney, who has had some outstanding pitchers during his 41 seasons, including current Boston Red Sox’ low Class A pitcher Pat Light, said Dalatri, who went 5-2 last year, is ahead of any pitcher he has had.
“At this stage, he’s somewhat flawless,” Kenney said.
Also helping Dalatri is the chemistry he has with sophomore catcher Brandon Martorano, who has already made a non-binding committment to the University of North Carolina.
“He (Martoran) knows exactly what I like to pitch. What kind of location I like to throw it in,” Dalatri said. “If I ever had to face him while he’s batting, he would hit me because he knows exactly what I like to do.”
Dalatri, who lives in Wall, admitted he was revved up for Saturday’s game.
“I had some jitters going into the game,” Dalatri said. “I knew I was going to come out and pitch a hell of a game.”
Dalatri had a devastating change-up — a pitch he said he had trouble controlling at times earlier in the season. Kenney said Dalatri also had a finger nail come off the thumb during the game.
However, nothing appears to faze Dalatri. Wall’s lone threat came in the third when Dalatri issued his two walks. However, Dalatri got out of that jam with a strikeout — his third strikeout of the inning.
Meanwhile, CBA (10-2), which will play the winner of the Rumson-Freehold Township quarterfinal in the semifinals on May 12 at FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood, reached Wall’s George Washington University-bound Tyler Swiggert for two runs in the second and three more in the third. The Colts then scored two in the fifth and four more in the sixth off Steven Coltrain.
Martorano had three RBI, including a two-run double in the fifth. Trey Nelson had three RBI, including a two-run single in the sixth. Dalatri also had a two-run double in the sixth.