Vikings receive Max-imum effort
Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series honoring the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s 2009-’10 Whittell and South Tahoe high school athletes of the year. Profiled below is South Tahoe High School’s male athlete of the year.
Besides distance runner Kelsey Smith, the most coveted South Tahoe High student athlete during the 2009-’10 school year was senior pitcher Max DeLallo.
Western Nevada College coaches took an avid interest in DeLallo after he tossed a two-hitter in an early season game against the Douglas Tigers.
A Chicago Cubs’ scout, Feather River College, San Jose State and UC Irvine also joined the spring-time chase for the durable 6-foot-3 right-hander while he set a school strikeout record and earned second-team All-Sierra Division honors on a team that won just seven games.
But DeLallo meant much more to the Vikings during the baseball season as he showed composure and sportsmanship not often demonstrated by star athletes.
For these feats and sportsmanship, DeLallo was selected by the Tahoe Daily Tribune as its male athlete of the year at South Tahoe High.
“Max is the hardest worker I’ve ever been around,” said South Tahoe baseball coach Don Amaral, who coached at Whittell for nearly a decade before taking over for the Vikings last season. “He had a ritual an hour before the game with running, throwing and stretching that he picked up from Nolan Ryan.
“And he’s the first pitcher I’ve been around where his chest would be heaving in and out as if he had just run a one-mile race.”
That hard work and effort paid off as DeLallo registered some of the most overpowering pitching performances in South Tahoe High history as he tossed his name onto a short list of prep players in Nevada who fanned 17 batters or more in a game.
DeLallo’s signature game was a school-record 17 strikeout performance against North Valleys late in the season at Todd Fields. The only other Viking pitcher to come close to that dominant strikeout effort was Forest Westover’s 15 punchouts in an April 23, 1996, game. Westover fanned the first 15 Reed batters and that was his total for the game.
“My curveball was just on that day,” DeLallo said. “The key to the strikeout is keeping a guy off balance.
“It helps to be able to throw harder, but if you can’t hit your spots, you’re just a thrower. It was more of me becoming a pitcher rather a thrower, which I haven’t been in the past.”
Some of the other highlights from DeLallo’s senior season included:
n A 133-pitch complete-game 4-2 victory against Elko
n In a 3-1 defeat to Douglas, he threw a two-hitter and struck out 12
n The first high school player to pitch in a sanctioned game at Aces Ballpark in Reno. Four days after throwing 133 pitches against Elko, DeLallo worked two scoreless innings while fanning four against eventual 3A state runner-up Truckee. Later in that game, DeLallo roped a two-run triple to the 424-foot mark in right-center field at the home of the Reno Aces.
n Threw 120 pitches and gave up four hits and struck out 11 in 4 2/3 innings against talented Damonte Ranch of Reno.
n Gave up just one hit and struck out 12 in five innings as South Tahoe beat Lassen 9-1 in its season opener.
DeLallo set up his fabulous senior season by working Major League Baseball pitchers’ training routines into his own workout program.
“I’m always trying new things. I go pretty lean with my workouts, never excessive,” DeLallo said. “My dad (Joe) was the one who got me into exercise at an early age.”
To prepare for his senior season, DeLallo did strength training with light weights, ran, bicycled and focused on proper dieting and nutrition.
“I was probably in the best shape of my life,” DeLallo said.
Statistically, DeLallo’s won-loss record and earned run average didn’t rate among the top pitchers in Northern Nevada. DeLallo was 3-6 with a 4.89 ERA, but those numbers didn’t factor in all of the extra pitches he made and jams he escaped after teammates routinely committed errors behind him. “Max is a gamer, but even with that it was hard for him to pitch when he constantly had to get an extra out an inning,” said Amaral, who counted 27 errors made when DeLallo pitched. “He had seven five-out innings and seven four-out innings where we erred behind him. He got frustrated, but he never got upset.”
That composure and sportsmanship are qualities that DeLallo prides himself on. “I take competition and sportsmanship very seriously. I’m not going to be the guy on the team that guys don’t want to talk to,” DeLallo said. “It’s something that comes with age. Each passing year I only focus on what I can focus on; don’t focus on what happened behind you. I have to let it go.”
DeLallo also put an emphasis on his schoolwork, earning all-state academic baseball honors. He carried a 3.76 overall grade-point average into his final semester of school.
After his senior season, DeLallo decided to accept WNC’s offer to play for the Wildcats on a half-ride scholarship. DeLallo sees the established program in Carson City as a springboard to greater heights. WNC has won more than 200 games in five seasons competing in the Scenic West Athletic Conference – a wooden bat league. In that short time, 52 Wildcats have gone on to play pro ball or continue their education and baseball careers at four-year colleges.
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore believes his team is getting a polished pitcher ready to provide immediate dividends.
“We had Max come down and work out, and it was obvious he has the kind of stuff that can be successful in college,” Whittemore said. “His fastball has been in the mid-80s the few times we have seen him but has some sink on the ball that will play well to wood bats. In addition his breaking pitch is very advanced for a high school pitcher.”
After showing a brief interest in DeLallo in March, the Cubs and other MLB teams passed on the Vikings’ pitcher in the 50-round draft on June 7-9. DeLallo was seeking to become the first Vikings’ player drafted out of high school.
Can those clubs afford to do that the next time DeLallo becomes eligible for the draft?