Brother Rice Gets First NHSI Victory

CARY, N.C.—In its second game of the day at the 2017 National High School InvitationalBrother Rice scored five runs in the second and six in the fifth en route to a 12-1 win over Rocky Mountain.

“We knew we were going to compete, we knew our bats were going to come along, and I was really happy to see some guys swing the bat well,” coach John McCarthy said. “Brett (Bagus) had a huge hit that really got us going, and that gave us a lot of confidence.”

Bagus’ hit really got Brother Rice going. He fired the opening salvo with a bases-clearing triple in the second to give the Crusaders an early lead.

“I was looking for a fastball, and got what I wanted. Guys before me got on, and that helped me out,” Bagus said.

Bagus would later come around to score. When all was said and done, the Crusaders would hold a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the second.

This would be more than enough for Brother Rice starter Jake Ridgway. The righty struck out six in four innings and his one run allowed was unearned.

Ridgway showed poise and maturity on the mound as adjusted his pitching style when he couldn’t find his offspeed offerings in the early going.

“Secondary (stuff) was not as good as I was expecting it to be, but it caught on later in the game,” Ridgway said. “But I was just going off the fastball to start.”

Zach Litke relieved Ridgway in the fifth inning, but by then the game was out of hand.

Led by a two-RBI double from catcher Andy Lopez, and another Bagus triple—this time for two RBIs—the Crusaders tacked on six more in the fifth.

Brother Rice added another in the seventh inning to put the score at its final margin, taking its first win after two earlier NHSI losses. Rocky Mountain dropped to 0-3 in the event.

After the game, the Brother Rice team delivers a mock WWE title belt to the player most deserving.

“After every win we get the belt, and the player who had it from last time gives it up to the player who did the best next game,” Bagus said. “So I handed it off to Ridgway for his pitching.”

This belt showcased the kind of night it was for the Crusaders. Even after his monster performance—2-3, two triples, five RBIs—Bagus gave up the title belt to Ridgway.

“I was about to give it back to him, too,” Ridgway joked.

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