No team in Shore Conference baseball history had won three-straight championships twice. Until Wednesday.
Christian Brothers Academy Baseball outlasted Middletown South, 2-0, to claim the 2016 Shore Conference Championship on Wednesday night at First Energy Park. It's the third consecutive conference title for CBA and it marks the first time a school has won three-straight on two separate occasions.
It was a historical night for both the Colts and star pitcher Luca Dalatri. The senior right-handed pitcher went seven complete innings to win his 35th career game, which is a new Shore Conference record for career victories. He eclipsed Toms River East's Casey Gaynor, who set the record of 34 wins back in 2006.
"It's nice to be able to say I have the record," Dalatri said after the game. "Records are made to be broken and I hope that in the Shore Conference, we get another pitcher that can do the same thing I've done and maybe beat me. At the next level, I have zero wins wherever I go. I'm going to have to keep working hard and start off a new slate."
But record aside, Dalatri stepped up for his team like he has done time and time again. He struck out 10 batters, allowed just five hits and threw 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes.
More importantly, the senior pitcher showed his unique ability to compose himself under pressure. Dalatri pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and Middletown South put two runners on base in both the fourth and sixth innings. Every time, however, Dalatri used his powerful arm to keep the Eagles at bay.
"He's a man among boys out here," senior catcher Brandon Martorano said. "He's light years ahead of a lot of other pitchers in the Shore Conference. He just continues to show that he's the best overall player in the state of New Jersey and he's been that since probably his sophomore year."
Christian Brothers got on the board in the second inning, when senior outfielder Cid Porter connected on a two-out RBI single to score senior first baseman Kenny Campbell, who led the inning off by hustling out a shallow center field double.
The Colts secured an insurance run in the fifth inning with sophomore Nick Hohenstein lining a RBI double to score Martorano, who singled with two outs.
The Shore Conference title marks the third time the Colts have won the championship with Dalatri on the mound and Martorano behind the plate. Since the duo's sophomore year, CBA has won three Monmouth County titles and a Non-Public State Championship, as well.
"It's pretty special. It doesn't get old, celebrating a championship here for a fifth or sixth time. It's always a good time, but it's kind of surreal that it's all over. I'm going to treasure playing here at CBA with Luca," Martorano said.
The bond between the Colts' pitcher and catcher- and their level of play- is something that only comes around once every so often.
"Brandon did a great job all year behind the plate calling pitches and making sure I was prepared to do what I had to do. I'm always lucky to have someone like him, where he's doing his job just like I am," said Dalatri, who finishes his CBA career on a 30-game winning streak.
Both Dalatri and Martorano are signed to play for the University of North Carolina next year, but both are projected to be selected in the MLB Draft, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.
"We accomplished a lot together. I'm excited that we're going to experience the draft together and hopefully go to North Carolina together," Martorano said.
Regardless of where their names are called during the Draft, Dalatri and Martorano led a special senior class- along with Campbell, Porter and five other Colts- who etched their names in the record books as one of the greatest classes in CBA Baseball history.