Luca Dalatri is a rarity in this era where pitchers receive extensive training for years from pitching coaches”
“I’ve hardly done anything with a pitching coach,” said Dalatri, a standout junior right-handed pitcher/first baseman at Christian Brothers Academy. “My dad has basically been my pitching coach.”
Dalatri’s father is Rich Dalatri, who was the strength and conditioning coach for the then New Jersey Nets for 19 seasons and then the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons and is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the Rutgers University men’s basketball team. Rich Dalatri also played scholastic football at Brick Township High School for legendary former Green Dragons’ head coach Warren Wolf.
Rich Dalatri has been a huge influence on his son, who was 9-0 on the mound with a 0.88 earned run average and batted .402 with nine home runs and 44 RBI, this past spring.
“From Day One, he’s always been teaching me, ‘There’s no days off. You’re not going to get better by telling yourself you’re going to get better. You have to work at it. You have to do it every day,’ ” Dalatri said.
Dalatri has been outstanding during his scholastic career. He is 25-2 in three varsity seasons. The wins total is 10 away from breaking the Shore Conference record of 34 set by current Rutgers University pitching coach Casey Gaynor at Toms River East from 2003-2006.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Dalatri is 20-0 the last two seasons, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina and has a chance to be a high selection next year in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.
His dominance start with his smooth mechanics and delivery.
“My mechanics have been an accumulation of everything since I was like 8 years old,” Dalatri said. “I’ve picked up things here and there from different guys. That’s what’s helped me the most.
“Structure-wise my mechanics came from me personally picking up a ball and throwing, getting better at it and watching video and just making sure everything I’m doing is just repeated. Repetition is the biggest thing with pitching.”
Dalatri’s mechanics and command of his fastball, curve ball and change-up, are probably the reason he might be the best pitcher CBA has had in the rich history of its program. That history includes several who have been drafted and 2009 graduate Pat Light, who was recently promoted to the Boston Red Sox’ Pawtucket (R.I.) Class AAA team.
“Statistically, it (that Dalatri is best pitcher CBA has had), has to be yes,” Marty Kenney, who has coached CBA for 42 seasons and is the state’s second all-time winningest baseball coach with 756, said. “I don’t want to slight some of the others because they had great ability in their own right. It’s just that he (Dalatri) had that ability from Day One.
“He came in with size and strength, command on the mound. He had exceptional poise for a 15-year old. He’s just taken it to the next level each and every year.”
Dalatri took it to another level on June 6 at Toms River High School East’s Raider Ravine in the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game against then 29-0 Don Bosco Prep, which was ranked No. 9 nationally by Max Preps.
There was also this little matter of completing the quest for “The Quadruple Crown” (overall state group championship, Shore Conference Tournament title, county tournament championship and Shore Conference divisional title).
CBA needed to beat Don Bosco Prep to become first Shore Conference team since Wall in 2004 and the second overall to win “The Quadruple Crown.”
“I don’t think words could describe how psyched I was,” Dalatri said. “It was just preparing for it, watching video and just making sure I was comfortable facing those batters and comfortable with the pitches I was going to have to throw.”
Dalatri put on a clinic. He pitched a four-hitter, struck out 12, walked one, hit a batter, never allowed a runner to get beyond second base and never allowed more than one base runner in an inning. He also hit an opposite field homer as the Colts won 7-0 and completed “The Quadruple Crown.”
“He made good hitters look average,” Kenney said. “I never anticipated him throwing throwing a four-hitter, striking out 12 and shutting them out.”
“I made sure every single pitch I threw I was on top of,” Dalatri said.
And Dalatri still has a year to go. He dispelled rumors that he was going to spend his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I’m staying at CBA,” Dalatri said.
Staff writer Steven Falk: firstname.lastname@example.org