WASHINGTON -- In last year's Congressional Baseball Game for charity, the Democrats trounced the Republicans, 22-0, behind a dominant pitching performance from Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who formerly played at Morehouse College in Georgia. It was the third straight victory for the Democrats during Richmond's two terms in office.
In Wednesday's 53rd edition of the contest -- which was cut short by lightening and thunderstorms in the top of the seventh inning -- the Democrats again crushed the Republicans in a 15-6 victory at Nationals Park. But for the first time since Richmond's election in 2011, the Republicans were able to break through against the right-hander with seven hits, led by a two-hit, three-RBIs performance from Texas Rep. Kevin Brady.
All proceeds from the game will be donated to the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington D.C. and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
"[Richmond] didn't overpower us this year," said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who managed the Republicans. "Every now and then he had a fastball that was pretty good, but for the main part [we competed]."
The Democrats jumped on Republican starting pitcher Marlin Stutzman in the first inning after the Indiana representative walked the first three batters he faced. Stutzman then hit Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy with a pitch to bring home the game's fist run. Another run scored on an error before Richmond stole home to give the Democrats a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom half.
Stutzman continued to struggle with his control in the second inning, and he left the game in favor of Illinois Rep. John Shimkus after walking in another run. In the ensuing at-bat, Murphy drove a two-run double over the center fielder's head. Brady, the second baseman, made a nice play on the relay, though, to throw out a pinch-runner at the plate for the second out of the inning, limiting to Democrats to a 6-0 advantage.
The Republicans got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second when Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise scored on a wild pitch from Richmond. In that same inning, Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann broke up Richmond's no-hitter with a single through the right side of the infield.
The Republicans pounced on Richmond again in bottom of the third when Brady blasted a two-run double over the head of the left fielder that rolled to the wall, pulling his team within three runs.
"I was OK at the plate," Brady said. "This is a great game, I love playing these guys."
But the Democrats broke the game back open with an eight-run top of the fifth inning, which was highlighted by an RBI single from California Rep. Linda Sanchez, the lone female participant. The Democrats added another run in the top of the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, the Republicans scored a run in the bottom of the fifth and plated two more an inning later, but the team's late push was cut short by the inclement weather.
"They won," Barton said. "But we would have scored some runs in that last at-bat because I think Cedric [Richmond] was really tired."
The Republicans strategically avoided Richmond at the plate, intentionally walking him in every at-bat except one, which he capped off with an opposite-field, line-drive single.
And though the strategy ultimately didn't work, Brady said the Republicans showed tremendous improvement at the plate and should be in contention for their first victory since 2010 when the event comes back to Nationals Park next year.
"We are getting better every year," Brady said. "And we are ready for the rematch."
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.