Senior Night was all for Donovan Kuykendall on Thursday, and the Ardmore pitcher was determined to make it memorable.
Ardmore's lone senior pitched a complete game seven-hitter in the Tigers' 5-3 win against Durant. Kuykendall struck out six batters and walked just one, and Ardmore's offense backed him up in the sixth inning by taking advantage of Durant errors to break a 3-3 tie.
Kuykendall, the only senior starter for the Tigers, finished off the Lions after the rally, getting three quick outs in the seventh — followed by a delayed dogpile from his young understudies.
"When you throw strikes, you need those guys to get ground balls," Kuykendall said. "My curveball wasn't sharp by any means, but they got it on the ground, they got it to first base and that's all that matters."
Rontrey Burkhalter drove in two runs, Chris Hall and Clay Atwood added a double apiece and Jarred Hall scored twice for Ardmore. The Tigers finish off the regular season with a doubleheader at Southeast on Saturday.
Ardmore coach Will Trisciani said the Tigers' final record will have no bearing on what they're able to accomplish in the postseason, recalling the Tigers' run to the state tournament in 2011. In that time, Kuykendall has been a lynchpin for the Tigers.
"He does everything that we ask him to do. He's played every position except first base," Trisciani said of Kuykendall, who was a sophomore in Trisciani's first season. "Hopefully, this momentum will carry us in."
With Ardmore ahead 3-0, Durant scored three runs off Kuykendall in the sixth to tie the game. But the Tigers hit right back in the bottom of the inning, as Bodie Coffman scored from second on an error, and Jarred Hall followed with another run off a Durant miscue.
Ardmore kept its errors to a mininum (one in the sixth) and made key plays along the way to keep Durant scoreless for six of seven frames.
With runners on first and third in the third inning, Kuykendall got out of the two-out jam with a pickoff at first base. Then, with two on in the fifth, Kuykendall induced a 6-3 groundout, one in which Chris Hall made a run-saving scoop at first base, to end the inning.