ROSSVILLE - The Ridgeland Panthers collected just six hits on Wednesday night, but it was the the quality, not the quantity, that head coach Scott Harden was most pleased about.
Five of the six hits plated at least one run and the Panthers showed plenty of patience at the plate in an 11-1, five-inning run-rule victory over Dade County in the home opener at Jay Smith Field.
"The biggest thing we've been preaching is about having an approach at the plate," Harden explained. "We've been talking about knowing the count and knowing where the runners are. You can see the wheels turning when the guys are at the plate and that's what the game's all about."
The Panthers (2-0) spotted the Wolverines a run in the top of the second inning before answering with a three-spot in the bottom half of the frame.
Ridgeland loaded the bases with a single and two walks off Dade County starter Luke Riddle before opposing starter Tyler Hisey legged out an infield single to plate the tying run. Tucker Holdbrooks followed up with a two-RBI double to give his team the lead for good.
After leaving the bases loaded in the third, the Panthers busted the game wide open with seven runs on just two hits in the bottom of the fourth. Daniel Johnson had a two-RBI single, Trevor Long added an RBI-single, while Riddle and two Dade County relievers helped the Panthers' cause with four walks and two hit batsmen.
An infield single by Johnson one inning later brought the game to a close.
The night's other story was Hisey, who needed just 73 pitches in the two-hit victory. The sophomore struck out three batters, including a big third out with the bases loaded in the top of the third.
"He did a really great job all night," Harden added. "He's really improved since last year and added some on his fastball. He battled back out of trouble a couple of times and did an excellent job of keeping the ball out of play. If we can continue to get performances like that from him, we can win a lot of games with him on the mound."
Johnson was the only Panther with two hits and he finished the game with three RBIs. Coty Riddle, Issac Martenn, and Tucker Hill all collected RBIs, while Dade County pitchers walked 10 batters on the night, hit three more, and uncorked six wild pitches.
Ridgeland will be back at home at 5 p.m. on Friday for a non-region game against LFO.