Monmouth County Tournament Championship

Wednesday, May 11, 7 p.m.

At First Energy Park, Lakewood

No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy (15-6, 8-4 in Class A North)


No. 2 Red Bank Catholic (18-2, 13-1 in Class B North)

Wednesday’s probable starters in the Monmouth County Tournament final between top-seeded Christian Brothers Academy and No. 2 Red Bank Catholic have both pitched in a similar spot before with different results.

First, there is Luca Dalatri, who has won two Monmouth County championship games, a Shore Conference Tournament final and an NJSIAA Non-Public A final during his record-setting CBA career. He won the first of those four championship games in the Monmouth County Tournament final as a sophomore on three days rest and would be doing the same if he does indeed take the ball on Wednesday night.

On the other side is RBC senior right-hander John Poccia. Last year, Poccia caught fire at the end of the year and helped carry the Caseys to the Shore Conference Tournament championship game, where he again took the ball against CBA. Poccia allowed three earned runs in a complete-game effort, but CBA shut down RBC’s bats in a 4-0 Colts win.

CBA senior Luca Dalatri is having another standout season. (Photo by Matt Manley)

While Wednesday might provide a chance at redemption for Poccia, it’s even more of an opportunity for the returning group of Caseys hitters to deliver in a championship setting. Last year, Kenny Campbell and Joe Gargana silenced the potent RBC lineup in a combined shutout in that SCT final.

Although CBA enters Wednesday as the top seed and the two-time defending MCT champion, RBC is the Shore’s hottest team and also the one with its best record. The Caseys won their 13th straight game on Monday night and are a Shore-best 18-1 overall and 13-0 in the Class B North division, which they have already clinched.

Red Bank Catholic’s success stems from its balance, both in its lineup and in its equal reliance on pitching, defense and hitting. Eight of its nine starting position players are hitting above .300 and leadoff hitter Evan Madigan is hitting .492 even after going 0-for-3 on Tuesday.

Catcher Doug Facendo, second baseman Aaron Ahn and third baseman Anthony DeRosa have anchored the middle of the order behind Madigan. Ahn is hitting a shade under .400 with a team-best four home runs while Facendo is hitting .465 with nine doubles and a home run. DeRosa leads the team with 17 RBI and has also slugged two home runs.

RBC junior Aaron Ahn leads the Caseys with four home runs. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Poccia, meanwhile, has led a pitching staff that has attacked the strike zone. The senior right-hander has walked only seven in 41 2/3 innings while striking out 31 and pitching to a 1.01 ERA. As a staff, the Caseys have walked 25 in 122 innings with 95 strikeouts.

Senior Jack Ipsen has settled into the team’s closer role and will be ready to back up Poccia on Wednesday. The right-handed side-armer has struck out 19 and walked four in 19 innings while posting a 1.10 ERA.

RBC will have to be on its game should it face Dalatri, who pitched a nine-inning complete game against the Caseys in the 2014 Shore Conference Tournament semifinals in a 2-1 CBA win. That was just one of Dalatri’s 25 consecutive wins without a loss since the beginning of his sophomore season.

This year, Dalatri has been at his most dominant. In 34 innings, the senior right-hander has allowed one run (0.21 ERA) and struck out 63 while walking only two to go along with 15 hits.