By Ella Brockway
SSN Correspondent

MIDDLETOWN - In his first appearance back on the mound after spending the past two-and-a-half weeks sidelined with a hamstring injury, CBA senior pitcher Luca Dalatri opened the No. 1 seed Colts’ Monmouth County Tournament semifinal matchup against No. 5 Middletown South with a strike.

He proceeded to throw 56 more strikes on 84 more pitches with 11 strikeouts over the next seven innings.

In the words of Colts head coach Marty Kenney, it was simply a “typical Luca performance.”

CBA senior Luca Dalatri. (Photo by Eric Braun)

Dalatri’s complete game shutout carried the Colts to a 3-0 win over the Eagles, and into their third consecutive Monmouth County Tournament Final. The win was Dalatri’s fifth of the season, and his 25th in a row in a streak that began at the start of 2014.

“(Dalatri) threw extremely well today, especially considering the fact that he hasn’t thrown in almost two-and-a-half weeks,” said Kenney. “We weren’t so sure how his command would be, but today it was basically the way it is every time he takes the mound. We were very happy with his performance based on where he’s at.”

Despite a rocky top of the first inning, marked by an error on the second play of the game committed by Dalatri, the Colt offense started the scoring four pitches into the bottom of the first.

Senior centerfielder Cid Porter put the Colts on the scoreboard first with a line-drive home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning off of Middletown South pitcher Ian Scheuer. Scheuer struck out two and walked five in six innings on the mound for the Eagles, whose 11-game winning streak was snapped with the loss.

Porter made another statement play for the Colts in the top of the second inning, when he made an over-the-shoulder, on-the-run catch to rob Middletown South’s Jon Martin of potential extra-bases.

CBA coach Marty Kenney congratulates Cid Porter after Porter's lead-off home run. (Photo by Eric Braun)

Dalatri took command of the game in the third and struck out seven batters in the next three innings while allowing only one hit.

“At first, I was just feeling myself out and not wanting to go out too hard,” said Dalatri. “They’re a good hitting team, so I just wanted to go out there and balance and even things out, and then figure everything out for the rest of the game.”

An RBI single from catcher Brandon Martorano in the bottom of the third gave the Colts a two-run lead, and then an RBI from pinch hitter Jack Harnisch on a fielder’s choice in the sixth increased the CBA lead to 3-0.

The Colts will now face No. 2 Red Bank Catholic in the MCT Final on Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood as they eye a potential third straight county crown. CBA captured the MCT title in a 5-4 win over Wall in 2015, in a season in which the Colts won the division, the county, the conference and the state group title.

“We’re trying to take things one game at a time. I told our guys to enjoy this (the tournament) now, and then come Monday, we have to concentrate on the division,” said Kenney. The Colts and the Eagles remain in a tight race for the top spot in the race for the Class A North title, and the division champion will likely be determined by what happens in the next week of divisional games.

CBA and Middletown South will face off again on May 10 at 3:45 in Lincroft.