Though Bradley Keith is in the midst of his first and only season on DeMatha’s baseball team, it hasn’t taken long for the senior transfer to pick up on his teammates’ sense of resilience. And with No. 3 Riverdale Baptist showering a barrage of hits and home runs early in Tuesday’s nonleague matchup, Keith seized the chance to show just how much of that fighting spirit had rubbed off during his short time as a Stag.
After going 3 for 4 at the plate with a home run and three RBI, Keith struck out four of the eight batters he faced in the final two innings to seal No. 6 DeMatha’s 7-5 victory over the Crusaders in Upper Marlboro.
“Right now, we’ve had a string of a couple of games where we got down early and stuck together and hung tight to pull out the win,” said Keith, who transferred from Severna Park last year. “We showed it again today. We never lost faith in what we were doing and just kept chipping away until we retook the lead.”
The Stags (19-5) jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off a throwing error by Riverdale Baptist. But the Crusaders responded, registering five hits and three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Brody Cook punctuated the offensive success by belting a three-run shot over the left field fence to give Riverdale Baptist a 3-2 advantage.
The Crusaders (22-4) poured on three more hits in the second frame. Andrew Sharpe hit his sixth home run of the season, this one flying over the left field fence for two more runs off DeMatha pitcher Kevin Fitzmaurice.
Though Fitzmaurice was able to induce a groundout and strikeout to end the second-inning threat, the right-hander’s confidence wavered as he trudged back to the dugout. But his disappointment vanished as soon as Keith came up to the bat in the third and smashed a two-run homer that brought DeMatha back within one.
“We’ve all had rough times at some point and picked each other up, so when Brad hit that home run, it helped me realize that we were still in this and I got my confidence back,” Fitzmaurice said.
Over the next three innings, Fitzmaurice allowed two hits and no runs while striking out four batters to position the Stags for another comeback.
Carl Colbert’s first-pitch solo home run to start the sixth gave the Stags a bit more cushion and set Keith up for his strong relief performance on the mound.
“Me being a transfer, I came in here and didn’t know anybody, so when these guys accepted me with open arms, it only helped propel all of us further along as this season has gone on,” Keith said. “When you feel like you’ve helped the team come back against a team like Riverdale Baptist, it felt great that the coaches trusted me to go back on the mound for the win.”