The 2014 season that Christian Brothers Academy right-hander Luca Dalatri just turned in as a sophomore could certainly be labeled a breakout, but according to Dalatri and his coaches, it was by no means a surprise.

"I thought we'd have a pretty good offensive team coming into the season, and he was our only pitcher coming back so we were going to be asking a lot of him," CBA coach Marty Kenney said. "We were asking him to take the ball every start and shut teams down and realistically, I was expecting 10 wins out of him. I knew he could do it because he did it whenever we gave him the ball last year. He lost two games when we didn't score more than a run for him, so it was just a matter of him maturing a little bit and getting a little bit more support behind him."

CBA sophomore Luca Dalatri is the 2014 Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year after going 11-0 in 11 appearances with a 0.39 ERA and 90 strikeouts. (Photo by Bill Normile)

Dalatri became the first CBA pitcher since current Boston Red Sox prospect Pat Light in 2008 to finish a season 11-0. After helping lead the Colts to Monmouth County and Shore Conference Tournament titles during his unbeaten season, he is the Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year.

In 72 1/3 innings this season, Dalatri allowed 37 hits, walked 12, struck out 90 and posted an earned-run average of 0.39 - the second-best single-season ERA in CBA's illustrious history behind former Philadelphia Phillies' draft pick Kyle Slate's 0.38 ERA in 2007. Dalatri earned a win in each of the 11 games in which he appeared, which included one relief appearance in a Shore Conference Tournament round-of-16 win over eventual Group I champion Shore Regional. Dalatri pitched a complete game in nine of his 10 starts, including five shutouts and five tournament complete games.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that every time I took the mound, our team was able to win,” Dalatri said after finishing off his season with a win over Barnegat in the Shore Conference Tournament final on June 1. “That’s the goal of any pitcher: to give his team a chance to win the game. It’s the result of a lot of hard work in the offseason and a really strong group of guys around me.”

The perfect season from its ace was the catalyst in a return to glory for CBA, which won its first Monmouth County Tournament championship in six years and then won its first SCT title since 2002, which was then the third of three straight titles. Dalatri accounted for two of CBA's Monmouth County wins and won all four of its SCT games, including shutouts of both Ocean County Tournament finalists – OCT champion Central in the SCT quarterfinals and Barnegat in the SCT final. In the SCT final at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, Dalatri pitched a seven-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and one walk against the Bengals.

Freehold Township twice fell victim to Dalatri, the only team that faced him twice during the season. Although the Patriots scored a combined three runs in the two games, Dalatri held one of the Shore’s best lineups to eight hits in 14 innings while running a 19-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Against non-public rival Red Bank Catholic and its ace, Al Molina, in the SCT semifinal, Dalatri pitched an eight-inning complete game against another powerful offense. He allowed five hits and walked a season-high three, but also whiffed 10 Caseys while outlasting Molina in a 2-1, extra-inning win for the Colts.

Without Dalatri on the mound, the Colts were a modest 7-8 and escaped with an extra-inning win over St. Rose in the MCT round of 16 and outhit Colts Neck for a 9-5 win in the MCT final.

 

Luca Dalatri: Game-by-Game

Opponent

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Decision

Middletown South

7

1

0

0

1

11

Win

Howell

7

2

0

0

1

10

WIn

Colts Neck

7

6

2

1

0

6

Win

Middletown North

6

1

0

0

1

9

Win

Freehold Twp.

7

3

1

1

0

10

Win

Wall (MCT)

6

2

0

0

2

8

Win

Freehold Twp. (MCT)

7

5

2

1

0

9

Win

Shore (SCT)

3.1

3

0

0

2

3

Win

Central (SCT)

7

2

0

0

1

5

Win

Red Bank Catholic (SCT)

8

5

1

1

3

10

Win

Barnegat (SCT)

7

7

0

0

1

9

Win

Totals

72.1

37

6

4

12

90

11-0

 

 

With a single season that ranks among the best of all time in the rich history of the CBA program, Dalatri has now put himself in position to rewrite CBA's record book with two more healthy high school seasons. In fact, he is off to such a fast start to his high school career that he may need only one more season to break every career record in the book at CBA.

Heading into his junior season, Dalatri will be within striking distance of every school career record for pitchers. He is 71 1/3 innings shy of the career mark (183 by Blaine Cordes), 42 away from the strikeout record (172 by Mike Sclafani), 6 away from the wins record (21 by Sclafani and Kevin Lillis) and currently running away with the career ERA mark. After this season, Dalatri's career ERA stands at 0.68, well below Slate, the current record-holder. He also is nearly halfway to the Shore Conference career record for wins (34) set by former Toms River East star and current Rutgers University assistant Casey Gaynor.

"He's definitely right up there with those guys," Kenney said. "He's dominated every time he's been on the mound. I guess the big difference with him is the guys who have had similar seasons have done it as juniors and seniors, while he's done it as a sophomore. I guess that puts him ahead of those guys, but it also means he's going to have a lot more pressure on him because people are going to expect it from him.

"He's handled it so far and the sky's the limit with his potential, there's no doubt about that. He's certainly done all we could have hoped he'd do so far."

Dalatri has not verbally committed to play college baseball like his sophomore battery mate Brandon Martorano, who committed to the University of North Carolina over the summer. According to coaches on the Carpenter Cup staff, Dalatri visited several schools this week, including the University of Kentucky, the University of South Carolina and Clemson University.