WEST CALDWELL — On paper, Caldwell vs. Bloomfield Tech looked to be a good early season matchup of two unbeaten Essex County high school baseball teams. But on the field, the Chiefs were miles ahead of the visiting Spartans, winning in impressive fashion, 13-1, in five innings on Tuesday.
The Chiefs boast a 5-0 record and have outscored their opponents 43-6.
“You can’t do much better than 5-0, so the kids have played well,” said head coach Tom Lamont. “It’s a cliche, but you take it one game at a time.”
On Tuesday, a 5-1 lead ballooned to 12 by the end of four innings.
“The kids put the ball in play. That’s what we said, not to give them strikeouts, make them field the ball and come up and make plays,” said Lamont. “That’s no different strategy against every team we play, just don’t give them easy outs.”
In the fourth, Cooper Milano reached on an error and scored on an RBI triple bombed to center by John Christopher.
Christopher then scored on a right fielder’s error, making it 7-1. Both John Gallagher and Hunter Smith drove in runs on an RBI single and triple, respectively. Up 9-1, Caldwell tacked on four more runs in the inning behind another Bloomfield Tech error, and three more base knocks.
“We didn’t want to get off to a slow start with them, we wanted to get ahead of them early,” Christopher said. “We know that we’re better than them or had a good shot at beating them, so we knew what we had to do and we did it.”
Not that he needed the cushion, having not surrendered an earned run up to that point, but Caldwell pitcher Chris Dalla Riva finished the job in the top of the fifth, striking two of the three batters, and getting a diving catch at short from Milano.
Dalla Riva had a no-hitter through 3.1 innings and gave up two hits to go along with four strikeouts and no walks in the victory. The lone Spartan run crossed in the top of the second, when two fielding errors gifted Bloomfield Tech an early run.
The only other time he was in any sort of trouble was in the top of the fourth inning, where Bloomfield Tech had runners at the corners with just one out. Dalla Riva battled back from a 2-0 count and ultimately forced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“Chris’ biggest asset is that he has good control. He didn’t walk anybody, he fielded his position pretty well. That’s his game,” Lamont said.
“I thought I pitched pretty well, I thought I left a few up that I shouldn’t have,” Dalla Riva said. “Overall I was able to mix it up and the defense played pretty strongly behind me and I can’t ask for much more.”
Entering the bottom of the second, with the score tied at one, Colin Bohnert reached on a beautiful bunt toward third, and then Jack Docteroff got on because of an overthrown ball to second, trying to get the lead runner. It set up Milano, who delivered a two-run triple lined into the right-centerfield gap, to give the locals the lead for good.
Caldwell added another run in the second, when Milano scored on a sac fly from John Christopher, and Gallagher scored in the third off of an RBI single into shallow left by second baseman, Christian Hauser.
Offensively, the No. 9 hitter, Milano and the leadoff hitter, Christopher, had the best games of the day. They combined to go five-of-five, with six RBI and five runs scored. The entire lineup managed 14 hits.
After an 11-1 win over Glen Ridge in the season opener, the Chiefs defeated Columbia, 5-0, on a two-hitter by Docteroff; Cedar Grove, 9-3 and Montclair Kimberley Academy, 5-1 before Tuesday’s win over Bloomfield Tech.