Sean Martin (@ShoreSportsNJ)
The New Jersey high school baseball season came to a close in grand fashion Saturday as the state’s best teams converged in Toms River to decide the champions.
From the Raider Ravine of Toms River East, CBA and Don Bosco Prep met up for the non-public A Championship in what was the marquee match up of today’s action.
The story line was simple but captivating. The Colts would hand the ball to ace UNC commit Luca Dalatri, in an attempt to be the first Shore Conference team since 2004 to win a division, county, SCT and state title. The only other team to do so was Wall in 2004, whom CBA beat in this year’s Monmouth County tournament at First Energy Park in Lakewood.
To complete this feat, Dalatri and the Colts would have to defeat a Don Bosco Prep team that was searching for perfection of their own, complete perfection, entering at 29-0 overall.
Brandon Martorano would provide the Colts with a early lead in the first inning, one that Dalatri would never give up.
After having lead off hitter Cid Porter down 0-2 in the count, Bosco starter Cullen Dana hit Porter with a pitch to start the CBA rally. He would retire the next two, striking out Will Morgan on a high fastball.
Martorano stepped to the plate and blasted a 0-2 pitch over the wall in right field. Just like that, undefeated Don Bosco Prep was trailing 2-0 in the first inning.
Dalatri would look sharp in the first, striking out Tyler Panno and Tristan Dacey. After one inning, CBA proved they were here to dethrone Don Bosco.
The Colts have been efficent this entire postseason in tacking on runs throughout the game to put teams away. That’s exactly what they did in the second, adding two more runs by capitalizing on mistakes from Don Bosco.
After throwing a lot of pitches in the first, Cullen Dana appeared like he would have a bounce back inning by striking out Trey Nelson on three pitches for the first out of the second.
However, the next batter James Miller would reach on a bunt single. Leadoff hitter Cid Porter would follow with a bunt single of his own, and a throwing error would move Miller to third.
With runners on the corners, Dana hit Andrew Buccellatto to load the bases for Will Morgan. Morgan, who struck out in the first inning, would draw a four pitch walk to score Miller and make the score 3-0.
Dana bounced back to get a big second out, striking out Martorano looking. However, Dalatri would help his own cause by coming to the plate and getting hit by a pitch to bring in the fourth CBA run.
Dalatri would strike out two more in the bottom half of the inning to give him four total through two innings pitched.
The Ironmen would generate their first scoring threat in the bottom half of the next inning, when Dalatri hit Riley Iafrate to put the lead off man aboard. He then threw the ball away at first to allow Iafrate to go to second.
As all great pitchers do, Dalatri made up for his mistakes by striking out the Bosco lead off hitter Alex Santos and then Tyler Panno. A ground ball to Kenny Campbell at first base would end the inning and the threat.
Dalatri continued to shine as the game went on, striking out the side in the fourth. He went to his first three ball count of the game on Brian Meerholz before striking him out to end the inning. Dalatri had nine strikeouts through four.
Following his strong inning on the mound, Dalatri led off the fifth and showed how dangerous he can be at the plate as well. He hit a towering fly ball to right center field, clearing the fence for a solo home run and extending the CBA lead to 5-0.
Watch the shot here-
The heart of the CBA order with Martorano and Dalatri had done their damage, and Dana exited following the blast from Luca.
Hear from them both after the game here-
Vitaly Jangols would come on to pitch and retire the next three CBA batters.
Dalatri got some help from his defense in the fifth, after giving up his only walk of the game to Frank Nigro to start the inning. He struck out Riley Iafrate before getting Alex Santos to bang into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Colts stormed off the field, sensing that, behind their ace, they were 6 outs away from a historic championship.
Cid Porter would triple to deep center field in the 6th, and Andrew Buccellatto added an insurance run with a RBI single. Trey Nelson would drive in the final CBA run in the top of the 7th with a single to make the score 7-0.
Three outs away from history, Dalatri cruised through the final inning, ending it in the only way that would be fitting- a strikeout of Frank Nigro.
He finished with twelve strikeouts to one walk on 89 pitches, only giving up four hits.
CBA had created history. Head Coach Marty Kenney had navigated his team to postseason perfection, the last two championships coming in shut out fashion.
Dalatri’s performance won the day, but Emerson Boro starter Chris Nedilsky would pitch a gem of his own, carrying Emerson Boro to a Group I Championship over Middlesex.
Emerson’s offense would scrap together enough runs to win off of Bluejay starter Tristan O’Connor. John Juri would draw a two out walk in the first, and steal second before scoring on a Matt Durocher ground ball that went under the glove of short stop Stewart Lester.
The Bluejays would not go without their chances to score, as they left a total of 7 runners in scoring position throughout the game.
Lead off hitter Nick DiNizo reached on an error in the third, and stole second with two outs with Stewart Lester at the plate. Lester would ground out to short to get Nedilsky out of the jam.
O’Connor struck out the side in the bottom of the inning, and Middlesex would threaten once again against Nedilsky. Matt Carovillano singled and Dom Lampasona walked to put two on with one out.
Tristan O’Connor had a chance to help his own cause, but flew out on the first pitch for the second out. Tyler Dymond would strike out looking to end the inning.
The Emerson Cavaliers added a run in the bottom of the inning when Patrick Dunn ripped a RBI double down the right field line off of O’Connor, scoring Jake Leara.
Middlesex mistakes would produce Emerson’s third and final run in the bottom of the fifth, when Juri doubled with two outs. O’Connor would try to pick him off and throw the ball into center field. Centerfielder Dom Lampasona air mailed the throw to third and it went into the Emerson dugout, allowing Juri to come home and make the score 3-0.
With six outs to play with, the Bluejays would rally with two outs in the sixth when Tyler Dymond stepped to the plate with runners on first and second. He grounded out against Nedilsky to end the inning.
O’Connor threw a perfect bottom of the sixth to bring his team to bat for the final time, trailing 3-0. Middlesex would make things very,very, interesting in the inning.
After Nedilsky got Mike Salerno to ground out for the first out, Josh Palazzi doubled to center field to get thing started for the Bluejays. Nick DiNizo followed with an infield single on a smash to third.
Suddenly, Middlesex had Stewart Lester as the tying run at the plate with one out. He took the first pitch into left field for a single and the bases were loaded.
Nedilsky appeared to settle in after the single, getting Mike Lavenia to ground to short. However, an error on the play plated Middlesex’s first run and reloaded the bases for Matt Carovillano.
Carovillano went down looking, and the Group I title would come down to a battle between Chris Nedilsky and Dom Lampasona with the bases loaded. Emerson led 3-1. Nedilsky won the battle, getting Lampasona to ground out and end the game.
Emerson rejoiced, having won group I by a score of 3-1. Nedilsky went the distance, working out of trouble numerous times and striking out seven.
Hear from Nedilsky after the game here-