The late and great baseball legend Yogi Berra once said that, “In baseball, you don’t know nothing”. For the Colts of Christian Brothers Academy’s baseball team, there may be one thing they disagree with when it comes to this quote.
That is, when Luca Dalatri is on the mound, he will be the winning pitcher. Entering tonight’s action, the Colts ace needed a win in the Shore Conference Championship game to become the conference’s all-time wins leader with 35.
Standing in the way of CBA’s path towards three-straight conference titles was Middletown South, a formidable opponent with a consistent lineup and deep pitching staff.
In the end, the Eagles just could not do enough against Dalatri, who worked in and out of trouble on his way to the record books. His seven shutout innings powered CBA to a 2-0 victory from First Energy Park in Lakewood.
Dalatri would take the mound in the top of the first inning, coming off of a win against RBC in the SCT Semifinals. In that game, Red Bank Catholic was able to break through against Luca in his final inning of work – nearly completing a comeback that would have sent them into the finals.
Here in his first inning of work against Middletown South, Dalatri resembled the fatigued pitcher we saw in that last inning against RBC. The Eagles loaded the bases with nobody out, greeting Dalatri with three straight hits.
Tom Gannon poked a two strike pitch into right field before Jeremy Joyce dropped down a bunt that was fielded by Dalatri but misplayed on the throw to second base.
After another liner to left for a single, Dalatri needed to focus on limiting the damage. Austin Markmann stepped in for Middletown South and swung over an off-speed pitch to give Dalatri his first strikeout and CBA a much needed first out.
The second out would also come on a strikeout, as opposing pitcher John Martin failed to help his own cause, going down on three pitches. The inning was left to Zach Schild, who grounded out harmlessly.
The star-studded battery of Luca Dalatri and Brandon Martorano combined to get out of what would be one of the Eagles best scoring chances in this game, walking off the field with emotions running visibly high.
They would come to bat in the first against Martin, with Martorano striking out before Dalatri grounded softly to third. The throw down to first pulled Ben Porpora off the bag though, as CBA extended the inning with the error followed by a Hohenstein walk.
Martin escaped by getting Golden to fly out, ending the first inning of what turned out to be a classic pitchers’ duel by getting out of a jam of his own.
However, after a perfect bounce-back inning from Dalatri in the second, CBA would break through to score the eventual winning run. Kenny Campbell lead off the inning by popping the first pitch from Martin into center field.
A miscommunication on the play allowed the ball to drop between the Eagles’ second basemen and center fielder, putting Campbell on for Evan Menender. The Colts’ left fielder did his job, moving Campbell over to third.
John Martin would then strikeout Andrea Dalatri to get a big second out. Luke Chece followed with a terrific at bat against Martin for CBA, eventually walking to put runners on the corners.
Lead off hitter Cid Porter dropped a ball into center field that chased home Campbell, and CBA had manufactured the game’s first run.
Middletown South would chase after this tying run for the rest of the game, starting in the top of the next inning when they stranded a runner on third against Dalatri.
Still trailing 1-0 in the top of the 4th, the Eagles put two on with one out before their designated hitter Ryan Ruziecki struck out against Dalatri, followed by pinch hitter Freddy Yahn.
The ensuing fifth inning would be a turning point in this game. In the top of the inning, Middletown South had the top of their order up against Dalatri with some momentum. Not only had they threatened against him in the previous two innings, but the Eagles also turned in two spectacular defensive plays behind Martin in the bottom of the 4th to energize their dugout and fans.
Sensing the finish line, Dalatri worked his cleanest inning of the game, setting down Middletown South in order. In the bottom of the inning, Dalatri came to bat with Brandon Martorano on first after a single, and lined a single of his own that set up the Colts’ second run. Hohenstein dropped a ball down the left field line that made the lead 2-0, with Dalatri 6 outs away from the victory.
The first three outs of these six would be anything but easy for Dalatri, as the Eagles once again put two runners on with one out in the 6th. With the only out of the inning coming on a 3-1 pitch from Dalatri that Martin flew out with to left, it was truly anyone’s game as we played deep into the night.
With both teams ending their season tonight, it was CBA that refused to go out on a loss. Dalatri again struck out the final two Middletown South hitters in the inning, preserving a 2-0 lead into the 7th.
From there, nothing would get in the way of Dalatri, as he and Martorano would appear to have a game of catch to close this championship game out. The Eagles did manage one hit in the inning, but 2 strikeouts and a final grounder to third closed the book on Middletown South – while opening the history books for Dalatri.
Seven more innings of dazzling shutout baseball had brought Dalatri a win he will never forget, and more importantly crowned CBA as the best in the Shore for the third consecutive year.
I talked to the North Carolina commit on the field after the game. Here is what he had to say:
His catcher Brandon Martorano also talked to our Jim Rosa after the win, along with Kenny Campbell: