MADILL — It seemed like every time Lone Grove needed him, Justice Ruhnke was there to step to the plate.
Or the mound.
Ruhnke was sensational in a complete game performance on the bump, as Lone Grove earned a 4-2 win over Madill on the road Tuesday.
"We feel like whenever he's throwing, we have a chance to win no matter who we're playing," Lone Grove coach Jake Melton said. "He really threw great out there today."
Ruhnke finished with seven innings of five-hit ball, while allowing two runs, both unearned, and striking out 12 batters.
"That was a great job by Ruhnke," Madill coach Randy Rushing said. "We just couldn't put two good hits back to back."
For the Wildcats, the game was defined by missed opportunities at the plate; after falling behind 2-0 in the early going, Madill would place runners at second and third base in two separate innings, both times with just one out.
However, Ruhnke would escape both jams unscathed, striking out four consecutive batters with runners in scoring position.
"They got the timely hits and we didn't," Rushing said.
Lone Grove added to its lead in the sixth, when Tanner Vernon led off with a single, then worked around the bases before scoring his second run of the game on a single by Aaron Hamilton.
The Longhorns would add another in the seventh, once again utilizing small ball when Ruhnke reached on a walk and Jaz Long knocked him in with a RBI single.
"We're a team that prides itself on doing the little things right," Melton said. "We don't have guys who will smash it around the yard, but we'll do the small stuff."
Madill had a chance to perhaps pull off a late rally, advancing runners to the corners in the bottom of the seventh after Jonathan Sutherland scored on a fielding error to narrow the gap to 4-2.
However, Ruhnke delivered the final blow, striking out Joe Avery to end the game.
"That was a tough one," Rushing said. "We just needed a few more big hits."
Gage Goff took a hard loss for Madill on the mound, going the distance and surrendering four runs, three earned, on five hits while striking out eight.
"That was a great pitcher's duel," Melton said. "Goff is a great pitcher, it's just a shame that one of them had to lose."
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