Democrats continued to show their dominance on the diamond Thursday night with a massive 21–5 win over the Republicans at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game.
“More of a football game than a baseball game, but I think both sides gave it their all,” New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley said of the score after the game.
With a 16-run differential, it was the biggest blowout in the bipartisan competition since 2013, when the Democrats won 22–0.
“Richmond’s a great player, probably one of the best that’s ever played in the game,” said Rep. Joe L. Barton, the Republican general manager. This was the final game for the Texas lawmaker, who is not seeking re-election this fall.
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The balmy evening at Nationals Park started on a strong note of bipartisanship when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise received a standing ovation during the starting lineup announcement.
The Louisiana Republican was one of five people wounded at the shooting at the GOP baseball practice last year in Alexandria, Virginia. He made a winning return Thursday, playing second base at the top of the first inning. An impressive defensive play from him against the Democrats’ lead hitter, Rep. Raul Ruiz of California, for the game’s first out brought Republican fans to their feet.
As Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks later put it, it was “the highlight of the game. We were playing even with them until the coach took out Scalise.” (Barton took out the majority whip and put in Texas. Rep. Kevin Brady at second.)
Things started cooking for the Democrats at the top of the second inning with solid hits from California Rep. Tony Cárdenas and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly. Cárdenas later scored off of a fielding error by GOP shortstop Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, pinch-running for Donnelly, would later score off a single by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter. In the bottom of the second, pitcher Richmond continued to keep the next three Republican batters in check, ending the inning 2–0.
In the third inning, the Democrats took permanent control of the game with a solid hit from Richmond that gave California Rep. Pete Aguilar, who started the inning with a walk, an unearned run. Richmond would then score off a flyable single to left field by Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. California Rep. Jimmy Panetta later hit a strong grounder to left field, giving Ryan a run. Democrats went into the middle of the third, 5–0.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul then gave the Republicans a much-needed jolt with a single — the team’s first hit of the game. Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who took over for Paul at first base as pinch runner, would eventually score the first run for the Republicans. Team GOP was able to load the bases as the inning progressed, but they were unable to capitalize on some Democratic defensive errors — pinch runner Louie Gohmert of Texas stumbled over himself as he tried to run to third after Donnelly bobbled the ball. Republicans ended the inning trailing 5–1.
The top of the fourth inning heralded a pitching change for the GOP, with Colorado Rep. Ken Buck replacing starter North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on the mound. Things started out well for Buck, quickly sending the first two Democratic batters back to the dugout. But after walking the next batter, Ruiz, Buck’s time on the mound took a downward trajectory. Democratic bats took action, loading the bases multiple times. By the time he struck out Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee, Buck had given up five more runs, and the Democrats had a 10–1 lead.
Democrats and Republicans went into the bottom of the fourth with more lineup changes. California Rep. Nanette Barragán took over second base, becoming the first female player of the night. The GOP mixed up their lineup with some positive results. After walking lead batter Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, Richmond seemed to sputter on the mound, giving Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan A. Costello a solid hit. More costly defensive errors also helped the Republicans load the bases. Utah Rep. Mia Love, the only woman on Team GOP, also entered the game during the inning, pinch-running for Mississippi Rep. Trent Kelly. Love would later score a run, and the Republicans ended the fourth with some momentum, but still behind 10–4.
Out of reach
The fifth inning brought about another pitching change for the GOP, with Illinois Rep. John Shimkus taking over for Buck, but the game quickly grew out of reach for the team after that. Throughout the inning, Democrats were able to get on base and steal bases off many of Shimkus’ erratic pitches. With runners on second and third bases, Richmond hit a triple, and due to an error by the Republican shortstop at third, was able to run home, giving Democrats three more runs. After giving up three more runs, Shimkus was replaced on the mound by Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall. Throughout the fifth, Democrats continued to take advantage of defensive Republican errors, extending their lead to a commanding 17–4.
In the bottom of the fifth, Richmond returned to the mound, and despite a solid double by Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis and a single by New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, the Louisiana lawmaker and the Democratic defense were able to effectively stifle the GOP offense.
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More of the same
The Democrats continued their offensive blitz in the sixth inning. Crowley — who collapsed near the White House on Wednesday while protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies with other Democrats — entered the lineup with a single. Taking advantage of more wild pitches from Marshall and Republican errors, Democrats were able to score another four runs, giving them a 20–4 lead.
Eventually both teams would end the game in the seventh, scoring one more run each.
More than 17,000 tickets had already been sold for the game as of Thursday morning. And estimates put the night’s attendance at over 16,000. The game raised money for D.C. charities, including the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
Ryan talked up the Democrats’ victory afterward, calling it “a lot of fun.”
“Obviously, we did well, we won and we raised a lot of money,” he said. “We’re all sore and old — I’m already four Advil in.”
Assessing Team GOP’s performance, Brooks kept it brief.
“The first play was Hollywood-scripted. Then it all went downhill from there,” the Alabama Republican said.