In his first season taking over after his father finished a legendary career, Riverdale Baptist baseball Coach Ryan Terrill set three lofty goals for his team: win the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament, win 30 games and win the Maryland Private School tournament.
But after DeMatha took a three-run lead in the fourth inning of the Maryland Private School tournament championship game Saturday, the last of those goals seemed in doubt. Stags right-hander Jack Alkire had stymied the Crusaders in an earlier meeting and was on pace to do more of the same.
Riverdale Baptist, though, responded and scored 10 unanswered runs to win the title game, 10-3, against DeMatha at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie and with it, the Crusaders’ 30th game of the year.
“To be honest with you, if you’d asked me four weeks ago, I would have said it was going to be a huge challenge to get there,” Terrill said. “To have a shot to reach those last two goals on the last day was special, and the guys I think really fed off that and were proud to get that done.”
Alkire struck out nine Crusaders when the teams met in an April 13 matchup, and Terrill knew his team would have its hands full again. After Alkire no-hit Riverdale Baptist through three innings, Terrill pulled his team aside and told his players they needed to start putting the ball in play if they wanted to have any success this time against DeMatha (21-13).
“I got to watch the guys celebrate and dogpile on the mound,” Terrill said. “That’s a special moment as a first-year coach, to see your team and be so proud of a group of kids that worked that hard.”
The Maryland Private School tournament also marked the bittersweet end of the season for Riverdale. In early April, team manager Richard Gaither lost his battle with cancer before the team left for a spring break trip to South Carolina. And so Riverdale Baptist added another goal to Terrill’s original list and honored Gaither’s memory.
“Our guys set off in his sight, and I think you could see that in our team, even to the last game of the season,” Terrill said. “They rallied around the inspiration that he was.”