FREEHOLD TWP. – Facing a pitcher Monday who throws a lot of strikes and still avoids contact, the Freehold Township baseball team took a simple approach to hitting: swing a lot.

Once Christian Brothers Academy sophomore Luca Dalatri – the strike-throwing machine in question – caught on to the strategy, he had a simple enough response for someone who makes pitching look so simple: throw unhittable strikes.

Dalatri pitched his fourth complete game of the season and recorded double-digit strikeouts for the third time this year to lead CBA – No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – to a 4-1 win over No. 2 Freehold Township, snapping the Patriots’ six-game winning streak while also extending the Colts’ winning streak to six.

CBA sophomore Luca Dalatri fired his fourth complete-game of the season and third with 10 or more strikeouts in a Colts win over Freehold Township.

“Coming in, I knew they were going to come after me,” Dalatri said. “They’re a good hitting team and they were on a great run and this isn’t the end of it by any stretch.”

CBA gave Dalatri four runs on just three hits, but the sophomore right-hander also limited the opposition to three hits as well. While CBA drew six walks against Patriots pitching, Dalatri did not issue a single free pass.

Dalatri (5-0) also struck out 10, just one shy of his career-high. After Monday’s performance, Dalatri has now struck out 46 would-be hitters while walking only three batters all year. Freehold Township sought to attack Dalatri early in the count to begin the game, with five of the first seven hitters swinging at the first pitch.

“You look at his numbers and what sticks out is that he’s striking guys out without walking hardly anybody,” Freehold Township coach Todd Smith said. “Anytime you see a guy with high strikeout and low walk numbers, it means he’s got great stuff, and it’s great stuff in the zone. He doesn’t mess around when he gets to two strikes, so we talked a lot about being aggressive early in the count because those are probably going to be the best pitches you’re going to see against him.”

Dalatri’s first adjustment backfired on him when he started off three of the first four batters in the bottom of the third inning with pitches out of the zone while looking to play off their aggressiveness. He ended up retiring right fielder Julius Saporito after falling behind and went to a full count before retiring No. 9 hitter Joe Ellerman for the first two outs of the inning.

Leadoff hitter and center fielder Steve Derby actually took strike one on the first pitch with two out, but laid off an 0-1 breaking ball before belting a two-out, line-drive double over the head of left fielder Griffin Arnott and to the left-field fence. Dalatri then fell behind 3-and-1 to No. 2 hitter Chris Talbott – who singled on a fastball in his first at-bat – by throwing three breaking balls in the first four pitches of the at-bat. Talbott then took a 3-1 fastball from Dalatri and grounded it into the left-field for an RBI single to tie the game at 1.

Chris Talbott RBI single in the 3rd from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

“I knew they were going to look to swing early in the count, so I looked to throw more offspeed stuff early in the count to get ahead and keep them off balance,” Dalatri said. “I wasn’t completely successful with that and after a while, it made me realize that I had to throw quality strikes to get ahead so that if they swung, they were swinging at a well-located pitch. Once I was ahead, I could expand more and I started to have a little more success.”

For the second time in the game, CBA got Dalatri a run thanks to an error on Freehold Township right-handed starter Joe Decelie, this time in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead. This time, that one-run cushion was enough for the sophomore hurler, who after the Talbott single allowed just one baserunner to reach, which came on an error to lead off the seventh. He retired 10 straight batters prior to the error, and after failing to throw first-pitch strikes to the three batters in the third, he fell behind 1-0 to just one hitter for the rest of the game.

After Freehold Township first baseman Nick Cardace reached on a hard-hit ball to second base that resulted in an error to start the seventh, he induced a weak tapper back to the mound and finished the game with two strikeouts.

Luca Dalatri strikeout ends the game from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

Dalatri needed only 84 pitches to complete the game and he threw 21 of those pitches in the third inning. He threw 65 of his pitches for strikes, a 77 percent strike percentage.

“It’s pretty easy to play behind Luca because he throws a ton of strikes,” said junior right fielder Will Morgan, who hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning. “Not only does he throws strikes but hitters don’t really put the ball in play that much, either. It’s just really, really easy to play behind him, and it’s pretty fun to watch too.”

While Decelie struggled fielding his position on the mound, he was effective delivering the ball to the plate against the CBA lineup. The senior right-hander did not allow a hit over 4 2/3 innings of work and both runs he allowed were unearned. The errors that cost him those two unearned runs, however, were his own, and the CBA lineup also waited him out for five walks – one intentional – and ran his pitch count up to 101.

Decelie struck out six in his 4 2/3 innings and combined with Jose Diaz (one strikeout in one batter) and Kenny Carrier (four strikeouts), Freehold Township’s trio combined to strike out 11 CBA batters.

“We’re a little bit of a streaky team with the bats right now,” Morgan said. “We’ve had some games where we’ve had a bunch of extra-base hits, and we’ve had some games where we’ve only had two or three hits like today. We thought we were going to have a big year with the bats when we were crushing the ball in the preseason, but I guess things change during the regular season.”

CBA did not pick up its first hit until the seventh inning, when senior center fielder Ryan Ramiz smacked a clean single into left field. Two batters later, Morgan hammered a 1-1 pitch from Carrier over the right field fence for his second home run of the season to give Dalatri two insurance runs.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately, just trying to do too much,” Morgan said. “That was a situation where I had a runner on third base with less than two out and my job was to get him in. I just relaxed my hands, let them go a little bit and the ball ended up over the fence.”

Will Morgan 2-run HR from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

The Colts scored their first run when sophomore catcher Brandon Martorano was hit by a pitch, took second on an errant pick-off attempt moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a double-steal, with senior third baseman Pete Papcun taking second on the play. The Colts scored on a first-and-third play again in the fourth, with pinch-runner James Miller scoring on an errant throw to second by Decelie.

“Three runs normally isn’t a lot in a high school game, but with Luca on the mound, it feels like a lot more than that,” Smith said. “You just have to grind out the game, keep it even or within a run and try to scratch that one run across. We were there for a while, but it got away from us at the end.”

The Colts win now puts two games of separation between the top two teams in Class A North – CBA and co-leader Colts Neck – and third-place Freehold Township.

“I think their second pitcher (Mike Garvey) has really come around and that makes this division a lot less open than it was a couple of weeks ago,” Smith said of CBA. “I think you still have to give Colts Neck a shot because they will play them one more time, but as for the rest of the field, it’s going to be really tough to catch them from this far back.”

 

Box Score

CBA 4, Freehold Twp. 1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

CBA (9-2, 8-2)

1

0

0

0

1

0

2

4

3

1

Freehold Twp. (9-4, 5-4)

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

3

6

 

CBA

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Ryan Ramiz, CF

3

1

1

0

1

1

Brandon Martorano, C

3

1

0

0

0

1

Will Morgan, RF

4

1

1

2

0

1

Pete Papcun, 3B

2

0

1

0

2

0

John Moschella, 1B

4

0

0

0

0

2

Luca Dalatri, P

2

0

0

0

2

2

-- Brendan Shaw, CR

0

0

0

0

0

0

Griffin Arnott, LF

3

0

0

0

0

2

Andrew Buccellatto, 2B

2

0

0

0

1

1

Trey Nelson, DH

3

0

0

0

0

1

-- Mark Mancuso, SS

0

0

0

0

0

0

-- James Miller, PR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Totals

26

4

3

2

6

11

HR: Morgan (7th inning off of Carrier, 1 on, 1 out)
IBB: Dalatri (by Decelie)
SB: Ramiz, Martorano, Papcun 3, Buccellatto

Freehold Twp.

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Steve Derby, CF

3

1

1

0

0

0

Chris Talbott, 3B

3

0

2

1

0

1

Joe Silvestrone, C

3

0

0

0

0

3

Nick Cardace, 1B

3

0

0

0

0

0

Kenny Carrier, LF-P

3

0

0

0

0

0

Mike Alexander, SS

3

0

0

0

0

3

Chris Rose, DH

3

0

0

0

0

2

--Joe Decelie, P

0

0

0

0

0

0

-- Rob Eriksen, 2B

0

0

0

0

0

0

Julius Saporito, RF

2

0

0

0

0

0

Joe Ellerman, 2B-LF

2

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

25

1

3

1

0

10

2B: Derby
SB: Talbott

CBA

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Luca Dalatri, W (5-0)

7.0

3

1

1

0

10

0

 

Freehold Twp.

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Joe Decelie, L (1-2)

4.2

0

2

0

5

6

0

Jose Diaz

0.1

0

0

0

0

1

0

Kenny Carrier

2.0

3

2

2

1

4

1

 

HBP: Martorano (by Decelie)
Pitches-Strikes: Dalatri 84-65, Decelie 101-63, Diaz 6-3, Carrier 38-29
Groundouts-Flyouts: Dalatri 5-2, Decelie 3-3, Carrier 0-2