TOMS RIVER It was a performance befitting of the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year and an all-time great in the history of Shore Conference baseball.
Luca Dalatri, a junior right-handed pitcher at Christian Brothers Academy, was that dominant Saturday at Toms River High School East’s Raider Ravine as the Colts completed “The Quadruple Crown” with a 7-0 win over previously-unbeaten Don Bosco Prep in the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game.
Dalatri struck out 12, walked one, hit one and scattered four hits. And oh yes, he had a towering, mammouth home run in the fifth, his ninth homer of the season.
“Looking back on it, this (the season CBA had in which it became the second Shore Conference team to win “The Quadruple Crown”) it’s going to be something I’m going to remember the rest of,my life,” Dalatri, who has made a non-binding oral committment to the University of North Carolina and is projected to be a high draft choice next year in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft, said.
Dalatri’s teammates, especially those on CBA’s pitching staff, had a large hand this week in getting CBA (27-5) to the point where it could clinch “The Quadruple Crown” against No. 9-ranked nationally Don Bosco Prep (29-1).
Dalatri’s teammates all had major contributions Saturday, especially junior catcher Branndon Martorano, who had a towering two-run homer in the top of the first for his 11th homer of the season and junior center fielder Cid Porter (three hits, three runs scored).
However, it was approporiate Dalatri was the man on the hill to finish the job.
CBA coach Marty Kenney, who is the state;s second all-time winningiest coach with 756 and has coached the Colts to three state championships, eight sectional titles, six Shore Conference Tournament championships and seven Monmouth County Tournament titles in 42 seasons, said Dalatri, at this stage of his career, is the best pitcher CBA has had.
“Because of his command of three or four pitches,” Kenney said. “He’s able to shut down good hitters.”
Dalatri shut down a lineup that had scored 30 runs in its three state tournament games before Saturday.
The Ironmen never had two runners in an inning and never got a runner beyond second base. Dalatri had a strikeout in every inning as he had outstanding command of his fastball, change-up and curve ball.
“I was just getting over anything I wanted to. It was just dying in the zone,” Dalatri, who finished the season 9-0, is 20-0 over the last two seasons and 25-2 for his career, said.. “I think that made me a little more effective than usual because I didn’t have that pitch that they knew I was going to.”
Dalatri and Martorano, who have both committed to North Carolina, were perfectly in synch, too. even though they both had to overcome an interesting third inning in which Dalatri got his foot caught in the clay on the mound and Martorano took a foul tip off his mask. Both had to be momentarily tended to by trainers.
Martorano said he is like a quarterback calling plays when he’s catching Dalatri.
“It’s fun. You have a lot of options. You have a lot of things you can do,” Martorano said. “With him, I just have so much confidence in him and I know he has so much confidence in me ”
Dalatri said some work on his delivery contributed to his dominance Saturday.
“He knew he didn’t quite feel right and he made some minor adjustments. Gradually he’s back to where hr was last year,” Kenney said. “Last year, I think, from start to finish, he was zoned in. To face the hitters that he did (Saturday) and to shut down those hitters, you have to consider it his best outing.”
Any time Dalatri takes the mound, whether he and Kenney think he is completely zoned in or not, he is scary for any opposing batter to face.
“The celing is so high. He can only get better,” Martorano said.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; email@example.com.