Ryan Rua described baseball as being "fun and challenging." Right now, it seems like it's more of the former and less of the latter for the slugger.
The Rangers infield prospect homered twice and tied a career high with six RBIs as Class A Hickory beat Hagerstown, 11-7, on Wednesday.
Rua launched his 27th home run of the season, a two-run blast in the third inning. His second long ball, a three-run blast in the fifth, put him two up on teammate Joey Gallo -- Texas' No. 7 prospect -- for the Minor League lead. The Ohio native added an RBI single in the eighth to cap his night.
"I'm feeling good at the plate," Rua said. "I had a couple of pitches elevated in the zone and I was trying to put good swings on them and barrel them up. I knew I got both of them pretty good."
Rua and Gallo have gone back and forth all season long in the race to be home run champion. In Tuesday's contest Rua tied Gallo, and he now has four dingers over his last four contests.
"It's just a lot of fun right now," he said. "It's a pretty cool expeience. I'm happy for Joey at the same time, it's a really neat experience for both of us to be up there in the top two."
The 23-year-old second baseman has plated six runs in a South Atlantic League game twice before, most recently June 6 against Lakewood. Rua has raised his average 36 points since the start of June, going from .224 to its current .260. Over that stretch, he's batting .327 with 14 homers and 34 RBIs in 30 games.
"Just staying under control in the box, getting good pitches to hit, trying not to chase as much," the 2011 17th-round pick said. "Trying to be short and quick and trying to let my hands do all the work. I think I was chasing pitches early, not getting ready to hit like I am now.
"That's baseball at the same time. You can struggle for a month and be red-hot for two months. I think that's what makes the game fun and challenging and that's why I play it."
In addition to his home run lead, Rua is third in the Minor Leagues with 75 RBIs and is tied with Philadelphia's No. 3 prospect Maikel Franco for tops in the Minors with 50 extra-base hits. Gaudy numbers to be sure, and Rua couldn't be more pleased.
"It's definitely been an awesome season so far," he said. "I just want to keep it going. Stay calm in the box. I've just had a fun ride so far and I want to keep it going."
Nomar Nazara and David Lyon also went yard for the Crawdads.
Sam Stafford improved to 2-4 after tossing 2 1/3 hitless innings of relief for Hickory.
Brandon Miller plated a pair of runs for the Suns.