What a relief: Dalton guides Iona over Lehman
Beau Dalton is a championship swimmer, but he couldn’t tread water as a pitcher on last year’s Iona Prep baseball team.
“The toughest thing in the world is to cut a kid, but I had to cut him last year,” Iona Prep coach Fred Gallo said. “I had too many guys. I told him to come back.”
Dalton did that and earned a spot on this year’s team – albeit barely. On a stacked Gaels pitching staff, perhaps the deepest in Gallo’s long career in New Rochelle, Dalton was the last picked.
But Dalton is swimming his way up the depth chart, especially after a stellar outing out of the bullpen Monday morning in Iona Prep’s 10-8 victory against host Lehman in Day 2 of the Monroe Tournament.
“Beau is one of the most resilient kids I know,” senior shortstop Vinny DeMaria said. “We’re really good friends, we’re really close. He got cut last year, made the team this year and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a good kid.”
With the Gaels trailing 8-4, Dalton utilized an effective two-seam fastball and pitched two scoreless innings. It was just what Iona Prep needed to turn things around.
“I just wanted to keep it a close game,” Dalton said. “I know our offense usually clicks and the defense has my back. I was just pitching to try and get outs.”’
Chris Lopez, the batter before Dalton entered the game, crushed a two-run double to center field with no outs in the fourth inning. However, the big third baseman was nailed at third trying to extend a double on a perfect relay from Dan Fischer to DeMaria to Billy Martin.
“That was a big out that kind of turned everything around for us,” DeMaria said.
Dalton got the final two outs of the fourth inning and then the Gaels started chipping away at their deficit. They scratched across two runs in the fifth, two more in the sixth to tie the game and two in the seventh to take the lead, capitalizing on a pair of Lehman errors.
DeMaria reached safely four times in five at-bats and scored three runs and Jack McDermott drove in a pair of runs to pace the Iona Prep offense.
“We’ve got a lot of guts,” DeMaria said. “Coaches talk a lot about never giving up, it’s a seven-inning game. We just have to keep fighting. It’s just a matter of time before our offense clicks.”
Stephen Rizzaro followed Dalton and tossed 1-2/3 scoreless innings to earn the win for Iona Prep, which went 3-0 and finished atop Pool B in the 20-team tournament.
That means more baseball for the Gaels, who also have big league games against St. Joseph by the Sea and Monsignor Farrell on tap this week.
“We looked at the schedule and knew we didn’t have a lot of practices,” DeMaria said. “We have a lot of games, a lot of innings, a lot of pitchers. We’re having fun. It’s the best feeling in the world – wake up, take BP, play, go home. It’s great.”
It also probably means more opportunities for Dalton.
“He really was the last pitcher,” Gallo said. “But he no longer is the last pitcher. He jumped by three guys.”
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