LAKEWOOD - On a night in which its undefeated ace struck out 12 batters, and the three batters in the middle of the batting order combined to make just one out in the entire game, the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team still found itself needing a hit in the bottom of the seventh inning to capture a seventh Monmouth County Tournament championship on Tuesday at FirstEnergy Park.

Fortunately for the Colts, the red-hot middle of their order would have the final say in their last turn at bat.

Junior catcher Brandon Martorano crushed a double to the center field wall to score senior Will Morgan from first with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh and CBA walked off with a 5-4 win over Wall to win its second straight Monmouth County Tournament championship.

Photo by Matt Manley

“It’s a complete honor to play with these guys, so whenever I’m lucky enough to get up in a spot where I’m able to contribute for the team, I’m always looking to take advantage,” Martorano said.

Martorano finished the game 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI to help the Colts rally for the win after trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. Morgan started the winning rally with a one-out single to right field on a 1-2 pitch and Martorano followed with a double on a 2-2 pitch on the next at-bat.

“I was just hoping and praying it would get down,” Martorano said. “When it got down, I just kept wheeling Will around and he was able to hustle around and score that winning run.”

“The ball was hit deep enough where I knew I could go all the way to second base and feel confident that I could get back if the ball was caught,” Morgan said. “In that situation, with the game on the line and being the winning run, I want to take a chance and make sure that if that ball just gets down, I’m going to score.”

Junior right-hander Luca Dalatri survived a nine-hit attack by Wall to improve to 7-0 on the season and 18-0 over the past two years. One start after setting a CBA record with his 22nd career win on the mound, he allowed four earned runs, but also struck out 12 without walking a batter.

“I felt like I was locating and hitting my spots pretty well,” Dalatri said. “Wall’s a good hitting team. Any time I caught a little too much plate, there were able to put a pretty good swing on it. Fortunately, outside of those couple of hits that scored their runs, I was able to execute a few pitches in key spots to minimize the damage a little bit.”

Dalatri also helped his cause by going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI at the plate, including an RBI double to the wall in left field that tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“I take the same mindset with me to the plate that I do to the mound,” Dalatri said. “Going up in that spot, with the tying run on second, I go up thinking, ‘You’re not going to strike me out,’ just like I go to the mound thinking, ‘You’re not going to get a hit off me.’ It’s not being cocky, it’s just the attitude you have to have to be successful.”

Morgan, Martorano and Dalatri - CBA's No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters - combined to go 8-for-9 with two walks, five doubles and five RBI to carry the offense. Those eight hits were the only ones surrendered by Wall senior starter Ryan Orender, who went the distance in taking the loss.

“We just couldn’t get those guys out today,” Wall coach Todd Schmitt said. “I hear them get knocked sometimes for not being a great hitting team, and after watching them today, I don’t know where that comes from. We had to battle and make some great plays to keep them off the board. Their whole lineup is tough, but those three guys in the middle especially can do some damage.”

Wall took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth on a two-out, two-run single to right field by first baseman Zach Wilson, who was 2-for-3 against Dalatri on Tuesday. Wall loaded the bases with no one out on a lead-off double by shortstop Nolan Cloney and infield singles by left fielder Nick Martinez and second baseman Brendan Barcas, with Barcas reaching on a bunt single.

Dalatri then struck out catcher Dan Wondrack - the Shore Conference co-leader in home runs with nine - and Orender to come within one out of escaping the jam with a 3-2 lead. He then fell behind Wilson 2-1 and Wilson punched a fastball to right field to score Cloney and Martinez with the tying and go-ahead runs.

“Like with any team, you can’t expect your pitcher to throw a 1-0 shutout every time out,” Martorano said. “He’s allowed to give up runs. He’s allowed to give up hits; he’s allowed to give up 10 hits. We have the confidence in our offense that we can get these hits in big spots. (Wall) played phenomenal defense and made it really tough, but we were able to pull it out."

Morgan began the bottom of the fifth with a one-out smash over the head of Wall center fielder Sean Larkin for a double. After Martorano worked a walk, Morgan came home on Dalatri’s game-tying double. Martinez ran all the way to the warning track and got his glove on the ball with a backhanded stab, but the ball squirted out of his glove as he braced to hit the wall.

Although Martinez could not come up with the spectacular play to prevent the tying run, he later saved two runs with one of three diving catches by Wall's outfield over the final three innings. Colts left fielder Shane Turk had a potential two-run single to give CBA the lead in the fifth, but his lined shot into left field landed in the glove of a diving Martinez, who snared the ball on the backhand, just above the ground.

With CBA first baseman Kenny Campbell on second base and one out in the sixth, right fielder Nick Maciejewski made a diving catch on a sinking liner by CBA center fielder Cid Porter and threw to second base to double off Campbell and end the inning. Maciejewski then made a diving catch coming in on a line drive hit by Andrew Buccellatto leading off the seventh.

“We did everything we could to stay in the game,” Schmitt said. “We made plays, we played hard, and I can’t say anything negative about my kids. They played the game as hard as we played all year.”

Porter got in on the diving catch exhibition for CBA, laying out to catch a line-drive to right-center field by Maciejewski, who later got him back with the double-play in the sixth.

Wall cut CBA's lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth when Morgan misplayed a potential inning-ending fly ball by Maciejewski along the right-field line into a two-out, two-run double that got the Crimson Knights back in the game. Wondrack started the rally with a leadoff single and Orender reached on an infield single back to the mound. Both scored on Maciejewski’s double, but not before Dalatri struck out Wilson and third baseman Regan Dombroski to move within an out of escaping trouble.

“After giving them two runs, I was pretty determined to make sure I got two back,” said Morgan, who scored all three times he reached base and went 2-for-2 in two trips to the plate after his miscue. “You never want to cost your team and your pitcher a run, but it happens sometimes and the only way to make up for it is keep playing and try come through when the opportunity presents itself.”

CBA jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second on back-to-back doubles by Martorano and Dalatri to lead off the inning. The Colts battery, both of whom are committed to North Carolina, later gave the team a 3-0 lead with consecutive two-out RBI singles in the bottom of the third.

Outside of Morgan, Martorano and Dalatri, the CBA lineup went a combined 0-for-17 against Orender and the only base-runners of the bunch came on a hit-by-pitch by Buccellatto and a walk by Campbell.

The four earned runs allowed by Dalatri were the most during his two-year unbeaten stretch, but in each case, he was one out away from escaping the inning without surrendering a run. Despite whiffing 12 Crimson Knights without issuing a walk, Wall was able to scratch out nine hits against Dalatri, five of which came with Dalatri ahead in the count. In the case of the two run-scoring hits by Maciejewski and Wilson, however, Dalatri fell behind in the count in both at-bats.

Dalatri also trailed in the bottom of the sixth inning a week earlier against Manalapan in the MCT quarterfinals. The University of North Carolina recruit also helped his own cause in that game with a solo home run and CBA rallied to tie the game in the sixth and win it on a walk-off single by Martorano in the seventh.

“He’s so hard on himself,” Martorano said. “Working together these last couple years, I know him inside and outside, and he is one of the biggest competitors, but he’s also one of the most determined people you’ll find. He believes it’s his duty to produce a win, and he’s done it for the last 18 starts.”

Tuesday's win is CBA's seventh Monmouth County Tournament championship and it keeps the Colts alive in their quest for five championships this season. They have already won a share of the Class A North division title on top of the MCT championship, and will continue their quest for the Shore Conference Tournament championship when they host Middletown South in the SCT quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs begin on Thursday, with CBA hosting Camden Catholic. The 2004 Wall team is the only Shore Conference team to win all five titles in play - the division, county, conference, state sectional and overall group titles.

“It’s awesome winning here,” Morgan said. “Coach told us the stat that in 22 years, we’ve been to the championship 11 times, which is great to be able to get here, keep it going and put another ball on the wall.

“It also gives us two of the five championships we want to win. We’re striving for five. That’s what we want to do.”

 

Box Score

CBA 5, Wall 4

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Wall (20-7)

0

0

0

2

2

0

0

4

9

1

CBA (19-5)

0

1

2

0

1

0

1

5

8

0

 

Wall

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Nick Martinez, LF

4

1

1

0

0

1

Brendan Barcas, 2B

4

0

2

0

0

2

Dan Wondrack, C

3

1

1

0

0

2

Ryan Orender, P

3

1

1

0

0

2

Zach Wilson, 1B

3

0

2

2

0

1

Regan Dombroski, 3B

3

0

0

0

0

2

Nick Maciejewski, RF

3

0

1

2

0

0

Sean Larkin, CF

3

0

0

0

0

1

Nolan Cloney, SS

3

1

1

0

0

1

Totals

29

4

9

4

0

12

2B: Maciejewski, Cloney
Outfield Assist: Maciejewski
SB: Maciejewski, Wilson
CS: Barcas

 

CBA

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Cid Porter, CF

4

0

0

0

0

1

Andrew Buccellatto, 2B

3

1

0

0

0

1

Will Morgan, RF

3

3

2

0

1

0

Brandon Martorano, C

3

1

3

2

1

0

--Trey Nelson, CR

0

0

0

0

0

0

Luca Dalatri, P

3

0

3

3

0

0

--Brendan Shaw, CR

0

0

0

0

0

0

Matt D'Angelo, SS

3

0

0

0

0

2

Shane Turk, LF

3

0

0

0

0

1

Kenny Campbell, 1B

2

0

0

0

1

0

James Miller, 3B

2

0

0

0

0

1

--Trey Nelson, PH

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

26

5

8

5

3

6

2B: Martorano 2, Dalatri 2, Morgan
SAC: Nelson
FIDP: Porter

 

Wall

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Ryan Orender (L, 5-2)

6.1

8

5

5

3

6

0

 

CBA

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Luca Dalatri (W, 7-0)

7

9

4

4

0

12

0

 

HBP: Buccellatto (by Orender)
Pitches-Strikes: Orender 108-66, Dalatri 116-87
Groundouts-Flyouts: Orender 4-7, Dalatri 5-2