Marvin Ridge High baseball coach Mark Mennitt says there’s a reason why his team is headed back to the Raleigh area next week as 3A West Regional kings with a chance to repeat as state champions.
It’s the same reason, Mennitt says, why the corner of southwestern Union County and southeastern Mecklenburg County annually produce state champs or contenders – teams, he says, like Weddington, Cuthbertson, Ardrey Kell, Providence, South Mecklenburg and Butler.
“Lots of teams have the real good players, those who are with the academy programs,” said Mennitt, whose team beat Ledford 7-1 Saturday night in the decisive game of the best-of-3 West Regional series. “But to have a really successful teams, those talented players have to be ready to embrace the team concept.
“Our players buy into that. And so do the players from the other schools around here. That’s why this area is so strong every year.”
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Marvin Ridge (28-5), which will face Topsail (21-10) in the best-of-3 state finals next week in the Raleigh area, produced seven runs Saturday night with a collection of walks, aggressive base-running, and Ledford mistakes.
“I thought our approach was good tonight,” Mennitt said. “We got on base and ran the bases well.”
The other part of the story was winning pitcher Zach Zdimal, a sophomore who worked out of jams in the second, third and fourth innings, then settled down and retired 11 of the last 12 Ledford hitters.
“He was something else,” Mennitt said of the Mavericks’ pitcher.
3 who mattered
Zach Zdimal (Marvin Ridge): Zdimal surrendered only two hits and a walk over the final four innings.
Demarco Reaves (Marvin Ridge): The No. 9 hitter laid down a perfect bunt that drove in a run and keyed a four-run, sixth-inning rally that put the game out of reach.
Alex Leshock (Marvin Ridge): A junior leadoff hitter, Leshock reached on a single and two walks, scoring two runs.
▪ Marvin Ridge heads to the state 3A finals having won 17 of its past 18 games.
▪ Among fans at the game was Hough High baseball coach Jimmy Cochrane, who played for Mennitt at Independence High. Hough handed Marvin Ridge one of its five losses this season.
▪ The Mavericks had the bases loaded in the first inning but scored only once. “It’s been like that the whole series,” Mennitt said. “We did it in one of the earlier games, and so did Ledford.”
▪ Ledford catcher Steve Guy had a great at-bat in the second inning. He fouled off six pitches with two strikes, then whacked a run-scoring double.
They said it
“He’s just a sophomore, but you’d never know from watching him. He settled down and was great.” – Marvin Ridge coach Mark Mennitt, talking about winning pitcher Zach Zdimal.
“I was nervous at first, but I settled down and started trusting our defense. They really did the job.” – Zdimal.