WASHINGTON -- The 50th Annual Congressional Baseball Game Thursday night was dominated by one player: Freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), whose pitching and hitting helped the Democrats rout the Republican team for the third year in a row, 8-2.
Richmond, 37, threw fastballs that looked to reach speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Republican batters proved no match for them. A former varsity pitcher at Morehouse College, Richmond's friends told The Huffington Post that this game had been on his mind even before he was elected to Congress.
Under a clear blue sky with a cooling breeze, Richmond struck two batters out in the first inning and two more in the second. Aided by some strong hitting from Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), as well as a single from Richmond, the Democrats were up 6-0 after the second inning. Great news, no doubt, to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who showed up during the second and stayed for the rest of the game.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also sat through at least four of the seven innings of the condensed game. On the GOP side, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) garnered cheers from the congressional staffer-heavy crowd when he arrived, as did Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who swept through the GOP dugout with morale-boosting high-fives for everyone.
At the top of the fourth, the only senator in the game, freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) struck out, swinging so hard on Richmond's pitch that he nearly fell over. Chants of "MVP, MVP" erupted for Richmond in the Democratic stands -- Republicans countered with intentionally distracting hollers during his next few pitches.
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) surprised fans in the bottom of the fifth when he hit a single, and then stole two bases in a row on two plays before coming into home.
It wasn't until the top of the sixth inning that Republicans got their first hit of the night from New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce -- a low, powerful ball to left field. GOP fans stood and cheered, prompting Dems to chant, "Raise the debt limit! Raise the debt limit!"
Only in Washington.
The score was 8-0 by the top of the seventh inning, when Reps. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) both had strong hits and got on base.
With bases loaded, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) was apparently hit with a pitch, and his walk brought in the GOP's first point. A catcher error with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) at bat brought a second Republican runner into home plate.
The game ended when a fly ball from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) was caught.
Ultimately, Richmond both elevated the quality of the game, while at the same time making it much less of a contest. As long as the New Orleans Democrat is in office, Republicans may face a long winter on the baseball field.
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