Baseball: Dalatri Helps CBA Roll Past Wall Into MCT Semifinals
WALL - With sophomore ace Luca Dalatri on the mound against a Wall team that knocked Christian Brothers Academy out of last year's Monmouth County Tournament, the mission was clear for the Colts in Saturday's quarterfinal.
"It was absolutely a statement game,'' said sophomore catcher Brandon Martorano. "We were excited to be in this position, and we completely capitalized on it. Today was a culmination of all we've really been doing all year."
Dalatri continued his stellar season with a two-hit shutout and the offense came alive and also made top-seeded Wall pay dearly for five errors to power an 11-0 rout in six innings that put the eighth-seeded Colts (10-2) into the MCT semifinals. CBA will play the winner of the Rumson-Fair Haven-Freehold Township quarterfinal on May 12 at FirstEnergy Park in a bid to reach the championship game.
CBA, ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, continues to be unbeatable when its sophomore star is on the mound. Dalatri (6-0) threw a complete-game two-hitter, striking out eight and walking two, to wrap up the win at 18th Avenue Field. The anticipated pitchers' duel never materialized with Wall senior Tyler Swiggart (6-1), a George Washington recruit, as a combination of miscues by the Crimson Knights (13-2) and clutch hitting by CBA knocked Swiggart out of the game after three innings. Adding to Dalatri's adrenaline for the game is the fact that he is a Wall resident.
"I really can't explain the jitters I had going into the game,'' Dalatri said. "I knew I was going to come out and pitch a hell of a game. They're a great team - they've shown (it) in every single game they've played this year. I just wanted to go in there and pitch a good game. They're a good hitting team, (so I wanted to) just throw it where they couldn't really hit it or where it was difficult for them to hit it. I made them swing at pitches they didn't want to swing at."
"It was a hometown game for him, and he was a little bit extra fired up, plus they're a highly-ranked team in the Shore, so we wanted to come out and show what we can do,'' Martorano said.
The offense pounded out 10 hits and scored five of its first seven runs with two outs. Martorano, a North Carolina recruit, finished 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI, senior third baseman and Monmouth University recruit Pete Papcun had a double, two walks and two runs scored, and junior designated hitter Trey Nelson, the No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-3, reached on an error, drove in three runs and scored twice.
Once CBA scored twice in the top of the second inning, it was all the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Dalatri would need. Repeating his smooth delivery all afternoon, he breezed through the win on only 77 pitches, keeping Wall off balance by throwing a changeup for strikes that he has been working hard on making a consistent part of his arsenal.
"It was one of the good days,'' Dalatri said about his changeup. "It really hasn't been on all year so far. I've been gripping it too much...so it helped a lot that I could get it over the plate and have (the batter) thinking in the back of his head that I could pull that out and not just only thinking about two pitches."
"His changeup was beautiful,'' Martorano said. "We've really been working on it, and it's come such a long way."
The Colts got on the board in the second inning when junior rightfielder Griffin Arnott reached on a one-out error on a grounder to third, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a fielder's choice and then scored on a two-out passed ball for a 1-0 advantage. Nelson followed by lacing a single into right field, going to third on a hit-and-run single through the hole at shortstop by senior Seton Hall recruit Ryan Ramiz and then scoring on Martorano's two-out RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
The Colts stayed aggressive against Swiggart, who is consistently around the plate and issues few free passes.
"We knew that he was going to come in throwing strikes, and we were just trying to be aggressive and jump on him early because we didn't want to see his slider too often, so we tried to get on as many fastballs as we could,'' Martorano said.
CBA then made Wall pay again for its uncharacteristically poor defense by pushing across three runs in the top of the third. Papcun hit a leadoff double, then beat a throw to third by Wall shortstop Chris Barcas after Barcas knocked down a hard-hit ball in the hole by Dalatri with one out. An error on a grounder to first brought home another run, and then a double steal with runners at the corners made it 4-0. Nelson then ripped a two-out RBI single on a first-pitch fastball for a 5-0 advantage that all but ended the game considering Dalatri hasn't given up five runs total all season.
"I was just looking fastball early on, trying to get something over the plate to hit and get some runs in,'' Nelson said. "We've started hitting the ball well in the last few games, and now it's really starting to kick in."
Wall had a chance to creep back into the game in the bottom of the third inning when a pair of walks and a stolen base put runners at the corners with two outs, but Dalatri struck out Wall's most dangerous power threat, No. 3 hitter Dan Wondrack, for the second of three times in the game.
Relieve Steve Coltrain came on for Swiggart to throw a scoreless fourth inning, but the Colts got to him one inning later thanks to yet another error by the Crimson Knights. A two-out error on a grounder to third by Nelson was followed by a walk by Ramiz and then a two-run double by Martorano on a sinking liner to center field that was just out of the grasp of Wall's Tiim Willey to balloon the lead to 7-0.
"Five errors is tough to overcome, but it's only tough to overcome if we capitalize on them, and that's what we did,'' Martorano said.
The Colts tacked on four more runs in the top of the sixth to help end the game early as Papcun walked and first baseman John Moschella doubled before Dalatri smoked a two-run double down the left-field line for a 9-0 advantage. After Arnott and junior Andrew Buccellatto walked, Nelson capped his strong day with a two-run single to put the mercy rule in play.
Dalatri took it from there, striking out two in a 1-2-3 sixth inning to wrap up the win and put the Colts back into the MCT semifinals. With a dominant ace and an offense capable of producing with two outs against quality pitching, the Colts showed all the hallmarks of a team capable of taking home a championship.
"(Dalatri) is probably one of the best pitchers we've had as a program,'' Nelson said. "When he's out there, we know we don't have to score a lot, but we still want to go out there and do our jobs, and he goes out there time and time again and backs us up."
CBA 11, Wall 0 (6 innings)
CBA (10-2) 0 2 3 0 2 4 - 11 10 0
Wall (13-2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2 5
Doubles: (C) Martorano, Papcun, Moschella, Dalatri. WP: Dalatri (6-0); LP: Swiggart (6-1).