By CHRIS McMANES — Blake Badman, Jack Bulger, Alex Greene and Jake Maske collectively decided they would attend DeMatha in 2016. On Wednesday in the school’s alumni lounge, the four accepted scholarship offers to play Division I college baseball.
“I think we all decided on the same day to come to DeMatha,” Badman said. “We were all pretty pumped to continue our four years here together.”
Badman and Greene signed their National Letters of Intent to play for Virginia. Bulger made his commitment to Vanderbilt official, and Maske signed with Mount St. Mary’s. Vanderbilt and Virginia are among the finest baseball programs in the nation.
Steve Miller, in his first year as DeMatha head coach, is looking forward to working with his four star players.
“They’re a pleasure to coach,” said Miller, a St. Jerome (1977) and DeMatha (1981) graduate. “They know what they want to do. They take care of the things they need to take care of. I’m proud of all these guys, and the entire program, because the culture’s been really good.
“These guys are a big part of that.”
Greene decided he wanted to play for the Cavaliers during his freshman year. Bulger decided to take his talents to Nashville, Tenn., as a sophomore and play for the reigning national champion Commodores. Both have played varsity all four years.
Greene is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher and center fielder. He was the ace of the 2019 pitching staff until an off-field left shoulder injury ended his season. During the summer, he suited up for the Kansas City Royals Scout Team.
During fall practice, Miller said Greene improve in several areas: “He’s very talented, athletic, does things easy. He’s getting better and better all the time.”
Bulger is primarily a catcher but also plays left field, third base and pitches. He was a first-team All-Met selection in 2019 after batting .545. His top choices, other than Vanderbilt, were Maryland, Virginia, Mississippi State and North Carolina.
Because of his strength and compact swing, Bulger hits balls that routinely leave his bat at more 100 miles per hour.
“He’s very talented, hard-working, physical, powerful,” Miller said. “He’s a quiet, humble kid who I enjoy being around.”
In 77 at-bats last season, Bulger had five home runs, six doubles, three triples and 32 RBIs. He also stole 25 bases in 25 attempts. He spent the summer playing baseball coast to coast and in Korea as a member of the 18U National Team. He is the first Stag to be honored as Gatorade Maryland Baseball Player of the Year.
Bulger is expected to be a high pick in next year’s Major League Draft. He will likely play professionally one day.
“I expect great things from him,” Miller said.
This past summer, Badman and Maske played for the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox. The club featured more than 20 Division I players.
Badman is primarily a catcher and pitches. This fall, while playing for the Dirtbags of Burlington, N.C., he was named MVP of a tournament in Greensboro, N.C. The elite club beat out 90 other teams to finish second in the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
During the summer and fall, Badman belted 16 home runs and, at one point, threw out 13 straight would-be base stealers. Widely regarded as the finest defensive catcher in the Mid-Atlantic, his performance has drawn the interest of Major League scouts.
“He’ll be a position player, a catcher, in college,” Miller said. “He’s hard working and talented.”
Badman was initially looking at Wake Forest and the U.S. Naval Academy. He said he began to favor Virginia after attending a camp on its Charlottesville campus last winter.
“I think it’s very important when making [your college] decision to feel really comfortable,” said Badman, who can also throw a fastball in the low 90s. “As soon as we got there, I said, ‘I like this place.’”
Maske is a left-handed hitting outfielder who covers a lot of ground defensively, runs the bases well and has steadily improved at the plate. His father, Mark, graduated from DeMatha in 1986. He should fit in well at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.
Maske’s running catch and tumble in the semifinals of last year’s WCAC playoffs sealed the Stags’ series win over Bishop McNamara.
“Jake’s a competitor, a battler,” Miller said. “He’s a scrappy kid. He’s talented. He’s a good player. I think he’s around guys who are going to help him continue getting better.”
Sean O’Connor, now head coach at the Community College of Baltimore County Essex, coached Bulger, Badman, Maske and Greene for three seasons. In 2017, the Stags (23-10) won the Maryland State Private School Championship and finished fourth in The Washington Post’s final rankings.
“Coach O’Connor knows the game very well,” Badman said. “He told us we had to do to beat teams.”
Bulger said O’Connor helped him develop his leadership abilities.
“I was pretty quiet behind the plate and needed to learn how to be vocal and lead the pitching staff and defense. He gave me the confidence to do so,” he said. “As the seasons progressed, he gave me plenty of opportunities to learn and improve.”
DeMatha lost the 2018 WCAC championship to St. John’s in a series finale several observers said was the most exciting high school baseball game they ever attended. The Stags have lost three straight titles to the Cadets.
“Just being in the championship three years in a row and thinking about it every day really pushes you to work harder,” Badman said.
Badman is excited for his senior season at DeMatha.
“I think this coaching staff, so far, just in practices and everything, is really engaging,” he said. “Our practices are a baseline of what we need to do. Just doing that every day, with a lot of tempo [and] getting things done in a certain amount of time, is helping us out.
“It’s really setting the tone for the season.”
Stags to play in historic Florida facility in spring 2020
DeMatha will travel to Vero Beach, Fla., in early March to participate in the 2020 High School Baseball Spring Training Invitational. The Stags will play four games and have three practices at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex.
The facility is the former spring home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
DeMatha players and staff will fly into West Palm Beach on Wednesday March 4 and play a doubleheader the following day. They will have single games on March 6-7 and fly home Sunday March 8. The games should help prepare them for another tough season in the WCAC.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) is in his fourth year as an assistant baseball coach at DeMatha.