Baseball – Will Morgan’s Walk-off Hit Gives CBA Win Over Marlboro in Eight-Inning Pitchers’ Duel
MIDDLETOWN - Christian Brothers Academy junior right-hander Luca Dalatri is not used to being powerless on a day in which he pitches, but after giving up the ball after seven innings and 90-plus pitches on a Thursday afternoon with temperatures in the forties, he could no longer factor into the outcome of the game - at least not from the mound.
Although the Colts could not finish the game with their ace on the mound, the outcome turned out to be a familiar one thanks to a one-out, game-winning single by senior right-fielder Will Morgan to deep right field in the bottom of the eighth inning that scored the winning run from third and lifted the top-ranked Colts to a 1-0 win over No. 9 Marlboro in a battle of unbeaten teams from the Shore Conference Class A North division.
Dalatri took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before surrendering his first and only hit on a ground ball single to right field by Marlboro senior Phil Saglietto - who hit a game-winning walk-off single in Wednesday's win over Middletown South. Dalatri retired the first 12 batters he faced before issuing his lone walk and struck out 11 in taking the no-decision, which he did not do all of last year when he went 11-0 in 11 appearances for the Colts.
"Not everything is going to be perfect every time out and once I'm out of the game, at that point, I've done what I can do and it's time for the team to step up," Dalatri said. "I would have liked to have been able to finish off the game, but I felt confident that we were going to find a way to win, and if we didn't, I would have dealt with it. There's not much else you can do."
After striking out 13 in his first start of the season in Florida last week, Dalatri was watched closely by his coaching staff in the unseasonably cold weather on Thursday. Although the junior asked to stay in for the eighth, he would not push the 100-pitch mark with another inning.
"He didn't want to come out, but he had given us ninety-something pitches and in this weather, we're not going to take any chances," CBA coach Marty Kenney said. "A game in April is not that important and we're not going to risk the health of his arm to win one game at this point in the season."
"I felt pretty good overall," Dalatri said. "When you spend a week in eighty-degree weather in Florida and then have to pitch in weather like this, it's definitely an adjustment, but I felt like I handled it pretty well. As a pitcher, you're constantly warming up, so once each inning started, I was loose and feeling pretty good about what I was doing."
Sophomore right-hander Mason O'Mara, who won his varsity debut in CBA's opener in Florida on April 1, pitched a scoreless eighth inning to improve to 2-0.
"The difference for us this year is we have guys behind Luca who can come in and throw strikes and you saw that with Mason today," Kenney said. "Last year, it was a struggle to find guys who could throw strikes and keep us in games when he wasn't on the mound."
Junior James Miller walked to start the bottom of the eighth against Marlboro junior starter Jeremy Dyzenhaus and moved to second on a bunt by senior Shane Turk. Junior Cid Porter then beat out a ground ball to shortstop Will Trochiano and stole second base to set the stage for Morgan, who offered at two offspeed pitches out of the strike zone and fouled off another pitch from Dyzenhaus before connecting on a 1-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate.
"I was pulling out and my head was coming off the ball, and I've been doing that a lot lately," said Morgan, who struck out twice against Dyzenhaus earlier in the game. "I just focused on keeping my shoulder closed, getting a pitch to hit. I got one and I hit it."
Morgan and Dyzenhaus exchanged words in Morgan's previous at-bat, the climax of an emotionally-charged game between two unbeaten squads. Morgan lined out to first baseman Brian Reilly in the bottom of the sixth inning and the two players began talking and gesturing to one another as Morgan trotted off the field.
"I just don't think (the two teams) like each other," Morgan said. "They talked a lot of trash, we talked some back and we showed it on the field today. Last year, they beat us so we wanted to come back hard and get this victory."
"He's a Division I commit," Dyzenhaus said of Morgan, who is signed with Old Dominion University. "He's a great player, we had a great battle the whole game and he got a good swing off me in the last at-bat."
Before coming through at the plate, Morgan also made a diving catch in right field for the second out of the seventh inning, which momentarily kept Dalatri's no-hitter intact. Senior second baseman Jeremy Gerringer lined a Dalatri fastball to right field and before it could drop in for the game's first hit, Morgan charged in and made a lunging catch to keep the no-hitter alive for one more out.
"We have a mentality as outfielders that anything that goes up in the air, we're going to catch it," Morgan said. "At that stage of the game, with the score tied and Luca pitching the way he is, we're just looking to pick him up any way we can. He always picks us up, so we're all looking to return the favor."
The walk-off hit ended a pitchers' duel between Dalatri and Dyzenhaus, who struck out six in taking the loss. Coaches from the Monmouth University staff were on hand to watch the junior right-hander and expressed interest in him following the game, according to Mustangs coach Jim Ferraro.
"Dyzenhaus was as good as I've seen in a Marlboro uniform," Ferraro said. "He was offspeed, offspeed, offspeed, offspeed all day and commanded the strike zone.
"I think what we showed today is we can fight. We took one of the best pitchers in the country and we got him off the field (with a chance to win). I'll take that any day of the week."
Unlike with Dalatri, Dyzenhaus got the nod to take the game to the end from Ferraro and nearly pitched the Mustangs (4-1, 2-1) to a fifth straight win to open the season.
"Coach (Ferraro) pulled me to the side after the seventh and said, 'Win, lose or draw, this is your game all the way,'" Dyzenhaus said. "So I felt pretty confident going out there. My arm was still pretty live."
CBA senior shortstop Matt D'Angelo preserved the scoreless tie in the top of the eighth inning with a sparkling defensive play to end a bases-loaded threat. With runners on first and second and two out, Mustangs senior center fielder Mike Santaromita grounded a 1-2 pitch from O'Mara into the hole between shortstop and third base.
"The ball was deep in the hole, so I knew I wasn't going to have a play at first," D'Angelo said. "I took a peek over at third to see if he was going to take a big turn and I saw their coach (Ferraro) with the stop sign up and when he slipped, I just kept running over there."
D'Angelo made a back-handed stop deep in the hole to prevent the ball from reaching the outfield. When Marlboro junior Chase Sandler slipped while taking a wide turn at third base, D'Angelo sprinted to the third base bag to tag him out and end the inning, setting off a raucous celebration by the CBA dugout.
"It's a tough situation from a third-base coaching standpoint because if that ball gets through, you want the runner to be going," Ferraro said. "If you hold him up, then you're asking for four hits to score a run. I guess you could look back and wish you did it differently, but my main regret is that there was a soft spot in the sod and he wasn't able to stay on his feet. Other than that, I think we played it the only way we could in that situation."
D'Angelo also added two infield singles in the game for CBA (5-0, 2-0).
"(The play) got everyone going," D'Angelo said. "We were ready to come in and hit, and I think that play definitely changed the momentum."