When all 6-foot-4 of Luca Dalatri is perched on the mound for CBA it’s difficult to tell that this right-hander is merely a sophomore. And when his fastball sizzles through the zone to freeze an opposing hitter, it gets even harder to believe that this baby-faced power arm is still an underclassmen.
But such is the case, and Dalatri’s startlingly polished approach to pitching was on full display Thursday afternoon in Howell, where the Colts, No. 4 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, earned a 5-0 Shore Conference Class A North victory over the Rebels.
“Based upon what Luca did last year, this is sort of what we expected to see from him this season,” Colts coach Marty Kenny said of Dalatri, who pitched a complete-game shutout. “I thought every time out he pitched well last year, even though he only finished 6-2. But he’s doing what we think he’s capable of right now, even though I don’t think he was as sharp today as he is normally.”
Despite a brief hiccup in the second and third innings, where Dalatri battled through some hip discomfort allowing a single and his only walk, the sophomore escaped unscathed and finished with 10 strikeouts, while scattering three hits.
“Today I felt like I had all of my pitches working, and a good command of the strike zone,” Dalatri said. “I was pretty pleased with the way the ball was coming out of my hand. I worked in the offseason on being able to release every pitch like it’s a fastball, with the same arm speed, and from the same arm slot, and I really felt good about that today. Overall I think my mechanics could have been better, I’m not all the way there with my mechanics yet, but I know they’ll get better as the season continues and right now I feel great after this, my second start.”
The Colts opened the scoring in the top of the second inning when sophomore catcher Brendan Martorano stepped in with one out and sliced a 3-1 fastball into the right-field corner for a two-run double that scored John Moschella, who finished 2-for-4, and Dalatri, who was 1-for-3 with a walk.
“I saw that he was working away on the guys who came up before me,” Martorano said, “so I went up to the plate looking to go to right field. When I got ahead in the count I was able to sit on a fastball and stay middle-opposite with it. Thankfully that game plan worked out for us.”
Pete Papcun padded the Colts’ lead in the fifth inning with a two-out RBI single that plated Griffin Arnott, who reached with a lead-off single, his only hit of the day.
Papcun reached base in all four plate appearances with three singles and as the beneficiary of a seventh inning error that allowed Will Morgan to score and push the lead to 4-0. John Moschella drove in Papcun later in the inning on a 3-2 pitch from Howell’s Brian Chaballa, who entered in relief of Rebels starter Zach Loroesh.
Loroesh kept the Rebels in the ballgame, allowing three earned runs, eight hits and one walk over six innings.
“Zach did a terrific job today,” Howell coach Eric Johnson said of his senior left-hander, “and against a team like this, that’s a very encouraging thing. If we’re able to get pitching like that from him consistently, we’ll be able to win a lot of games this year.”
Although the Rebels only had three hits, two by Loroesh and another by Dan Matrisciano, Johnson said he was pleased by the team’s effort.
“We’ve had some tough games in the past where the coaching staff and I haven’t been pleased with the overall performance of our guys. But a lot of times in high school baseball it’s a matter of one team beating themselves, and that’s been the case for us in the last two games. It’s not that the other teams are so much better than we are, there’s just some things we need to do better,” he said. “Tonight we lost to a team where what they put on the field was better than what we put on the field. And there’s nothing really to hang our heads about. Our guys fought hard and I think we’re going to make a run.”