RIDGELAND — Sometimes one run is enough to win. When you have Montravious Winn on the mound, as Ridgeland High did Thursday night, it’s plenty.
The sophomore was nearly untouchable against Cleveland Central, working all seven innings to pick up the no-hitter in a 1-0 series-opening win over the Wolves in the second round of the MHSAA 5A baseball playoffs at Titan Park.
Game two in the series is set for 7 p.m. Friday night in Cleveland.
If it plays out like Thursday’s series-opener did, runs will be at a premium.
Winn struck out seven batters and allowed just five base-runners on three walks, a hit-by-pitch and a fielding error. And each time he faced trouble, he managed it.
When Cleveland Central’s J.J. Johnson walked to lead off the second inning and Sirr Trotter reached on a bunt the Titans couldn’t field, Winn struck out Milton Lubin and got a double-play ground ball back to the mound to get out of it.
The Wolves got two runners aboard via a walk and a hit-by-pitch with two outs in the third inning, but Ridgeland catcher James Woody got his pitcher off the hook when he picked off a baserunner at first who took too big a lead.
Winn did the rest from there, retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. It would have been 13 out of 13 if not for a Titan fielding error in the sixth inning. He threw 54 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
“I just used my fastball and tried to stay ahead in the counts,” Winn said. “That’s what the coaches stress to us all the time is to throw strikes and keep the hitters on their toes.”
And that’s just what he did.
The game’s lone run came in the bottom of the fifth inning after Ridgeland’s seventh-grade second baseman Dakari Wallace led off the inning with a walk. Titan sophomore Zakarie McDonald laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Wallace to second, and it was Richard Mays who came up with the big two-out single through the middle to bring him home to score the winning run.
“We’re not a big power-hitting team,” Ridgeland coach Chris Peden said. “We’re about getting on base and using our speed and playing strong defense, and that’s what you saw today. We have a tradition of being in the playoffs and winning here at Ridgeland, so it feels good to be in this position headed into game two in the second round.”
Peden also made clear, he doesn’t want to come back to Ridgeland for a game three Saturday.
“We hit the ball hard tonight a couple of times, but the ball just doesn’t carry here like it does at other places,” he said. “We’re going to try to go up there tomorrow and put a couple of runs on the board and wrap this series up.”
Cleveland Central starter Caleb Carter also recorded the complete game in a tough-luck loss. The junior gave up just one run on four hits and two walks.
“I thought it was a great pitching battle today between Caleb and Montravious,” Cleveland Central coach Alex Fletcher said. “I thought we moved the ball around a lot tonight and we certainly didn’t expect to get no-hit with the contact we were making early. But we’re a small-ball club and we want to put runners on and lay down the bunt and move guys around. It’s worked for us this season and hopefully it will work for us tomorrow at home.”