The Riverdale Baptist School baseball team defeated The Heights 5-0 Thursday afternoon in Upper Marlboro in the first of two intercounty meetings between the two private school squads.
Riverdale Baptist (7-1) coach Terry Terrill knew heading into the season that the Crusaders would have to rely heavily on their pitching and defense to win games this spring because they do not possess the usual power in the heart of the order. Terrill, now nine wins away from reaching the 1,000-win plateau in his prolonged career as the only baseball coach the school has ever had, watched his team scratch and claw for five runs on six hits, only one of which went for extra bases, and two pitchers combined to shut out the visiting Cavaliers.
“This team is going to be all about pitching and defense,” Terrill said. Starter Taylor Bloom pitched four-plus scoreless innings and reliever Brett Jones pitched three scoreless innings to get the win. “Anytime you send Taylor out to the mound you know you’re going to be in the game. He was pretty good today, but his pitch count was starting to get up a little and after he walked those two guys, I felt like we had to make a change. Brett came in and did a nice job closing the door. He came in with two runners on and didn’t give up anything.”
Bloom, a University of Maryland recruit, did not pitch long enough to get credit for the win on Thursday. He allowed three hits and three walks while striking out eight Cavaliers, He was pulled after issuing back-to-back walks to Michael Heinssen and Charles Tsintolas leading off the fifth. Jones came on to prevent any damage and did not allow a base runner while striking out three batters.
Riverdale Baptist senior center fielder and leadoff batter, Brandon Ernest, typically sets the table for the Crusaders. But on Thursday afternoon, he did his best to clean the table. Ernest did not have an overwhelming game, statistically, going 1-for-2, but he had three runs batted in and scored a run. Two of his plate appearances that were not official at-bats resulted in Crusaders’ runs when he drew a bases loaded walk in the second to force in Adante Rhodes and he had a sacrifice fly in the sixth that scored Zach McPherson.
“In the second inning, I was just looking to get on base any way that I could,” said Ernest, a Farmingdale College recruit. “I kept taking pitches and finally I got walked. The next time up with a runner on base I was just looking to make good contact and got a hit. That last time up, we had a runner on third and I wanted us to have another insurance run. I got a pitch up that I could drive and it was deep enough to score Zach from third.”
The Heights (2-3) arrived with a much younger squad, led by rookie coach and former player, Paul Fritts, who started seven sophomores against the Crusaders on Thursday. The Heights’ starting pitcher, Brady Hall, took the loss although he allowed only two runs on three hits in over three innings of work. Matt McCreay, who started the game at shortstop, allowed three runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings. Jack Kuzma, Gy DeSanctis and Henry Crooks each had one hit for the Cavaliers and Crooks had the game’s only error in the first.
“We’re a very young team,” said Fritts, who recalled making the annual trip to Upper Marlboro to face Riverdale Baptist when he played for The Heights in the mid-1990s. “I had seven sophomores starting today and they played well. Anytime you face an established program like Riverdale Baptist, you want your kids to learn from the experience. Our pitchers did well and we played well on defense. They only had one big inning, but other than that we held them down. I was proud of our guys.”
Riverdale Baptist scored a run in the second on one hit, two walks and a hit batter. Rhodes hit a one-out single, then Rico Nesler drew a two-out walk and McPherson was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Ernest walked on a 3-2 pitch up and away to force in the first run. After watching three straight batters reach without swinging the bat, Brody Cook grounded out to second on the first pitch from Hall.
Cook would make up for that mental mistake in the fourth. Aaron Imman beat out an infield single, then Nesler sacrifice bunted him over to second. With two outs, Ernest scored Imman with a single to left and then Cook followed with a triple that scored Ernest. After Brandon Snow walked, Cook and Snow executed a double steal in which Cook stole home. Ernest scored McPherson with a sac fly in the sixth for the game’s final run.
Riverdale Baptist 5, The Heights 0
Heights (2-3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Riverdale Baptist (7-1) 0 1 0 3 0 1 X — 5
WP — Brett Jones LP — Brady Hall, 3B — RBS — Brody Cook. RBI — RBS — Brandon Ernest 3, Brody Cook 1.