GOP’s S.C. Surprise Not Enough to Beat Democrats

Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:49pm

Ahead of the opening pitch in Roll Call’s 49th annual Congressional Baseball Game, Democratic manager Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) had a vision. In it, retiring Rep. Gresham Barrett (S.C.), who was not expected to play Tuesday night, would come off the bench for one final at bat and win the game for the GOP.

It nearly happened.

With Democrats up 4-2 after five and a half innings, Barrett belted a two-run single to right field that tied the game — and sent Doyle’s blood pressure into the rafters.

“I was thinking, ‘Son of a bitch. I just knew this guy was going to come back and do this to us,” Doyle recalled Wednesday.

But Barrett’s heroics would not be enough. With the score tied 4-4 after six innings, Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) scored the go-ahead run for the Democrats when third baseman Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) mishandled a pickoff attempt by the GOP catcher, Rep. Todd Platts (Pa.). That play opened the floodgates, and by the time GOP pitcher Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.) retired the side, Democrats were up 13-4.

Republicans attempted to battle back in the bottom half of the last inning, loading the bases, but they scored just one run before Rep. Connie Mack IV (Fla.) was thrown out at the plate and Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.) struck out to end the game.

Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Shimkus both pitched complete games for their squads, but the Republican defense committed eight errors, while the Democrats made only four.

On Wednesday, Doyle said fielding misplays made the difference in this year’s outcome.

“This is a game about errors,” he said. “You give people openings.”

GOP shortstop Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) led his team with four errors, while Republican Reps. Bill Shuster (Pa.), Kevin Brady (Texas), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) and Platts were charged with one apiece, unofficial scoring available Wednesday shows.

Retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) committed two errors, while Baca and Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) each had one, according to the unofficial scoring.

Nevertheless, each side posted a few defensive gems. In the second inning, Shuster, the GOP’s right fielder, caught a long fly off the bat of Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and fired the ball back to first base to put out Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who had broken for second.

In the bottom of the seventh, Weiner ran down a deep fly by the GOP’s Brady and made a highlight-reel catch that was replayed on ESPN.

The most valuable players for the Democratic team were Baca, Baird and Rep. John Boccieri (Ohio). The 63-year-old Democratic pitcher threw 72 of 107 pitches for strikes in seven innings of work. Shimkus posted similar numbers for the night, throwing just 28 balls out of 105 pitches.

Baird went 3-4, while Boccieri hit .500 for the night in four attempts. Ensign went 3-4, scoring once, while Shuster went 2-4, knocking in one.

GOP manager Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), who will name his team’s MVPs, was unable for comment midday Wednesday.