McKINNEY, Texas — Lone Grove rising senior Justice Ruhnke was in command on the mound for the American National Bank Ardmore Cardinals on Sunday, allowing just four hits in a 5-2 win against the McKinney Marshals, the Cardinals' final game of the McKinney tournament.
Ruhnke struck out nine and walked only two batters in seven innings. Only one of the two runs against Ruhnke was unearned, as the Cardinals closed the weekend with another strong pitching performance.
"He was dominant," Cardinals coach Bubba Tamez said. "He was hitting his spot with the fastball, his curveball was filthy and he absolutely looked great."
The Cardinals jumped out to a 5-0 lead after just three innings. In the second, Gage Goff (Rose State/Madill) and Donovan Kuykendall (Ardmore) each walked and Jared Hayes (Kingston) followed with a two-run double for the 2-0 lead.
Hayes advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch to give the Cardinals a 3-0 advantage. That proved to be all Ruhnke would need.
"I was nervous at first, but after the first inning I threw all my pitches for strikes and felt good after that," said Ruhnke, who was starting only his second game of the summer. "This game I came out and competed and did a whole lot better."
Ruhnke and the Cardinals had the Marshals down to two outs in the seventh before two errors led to two runs — one unearned.
"He pitched six innings as good as we've seen all year," Tamez said of Ruhnke.
In the third inning, the Cardinals added two more runs. Scott Brinkley (Tushka) drew a walk, Chase Crites (Murray State/Caney) singled and Goff walked to load the bases. Brinkley scored on a wild pitch and Cade Carter (Murray State/Colbert) hit an RBI groundout for the 5-0 lead.
The Cardinals came out of the McKinney tournament 3-2 against some of the best competition they've faced all summer.
"I think we performed pretty well," Ruhnke said. "We were short a bunch of guys and some people covered spots they weren't used to."
"We went down there and it was a step up in competition for us," Tamez said. "Our kids responded really well. You go five games with pitching like that, to go 3-2, we feel really good about it."