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Eagles soar into Series' rare air

May 28—Game 11

Arizona Christian and Reinhardt were two of four undefeated teams left at the NAIA World Series heading into their Monday matchup at Harris Field in Lewiston.

The feisty fifth-seeded Eagles defeated the ninth-seeded Firestorm 30-13 and set multiple single-game records in a winners' bracket duel on Day 3 of the Series.

"Oh my goodness, we played exceptional," Reinhardt coach Jonathan Burton said. "To start the way we did at the plate and to have so many contributors — we didn't exactly pitch the best to start the game, but Arizona Christan can really hit too. ... It never felt like it was over. I know the score doesn't indicate that, but when you're in this park and the sun's out, I mean, you never know what can happen."

Reinhardt (43-16) will play Georgia Gwinnett/Tennessee Wesleyan at 6:30 p.m. today at the same site, and Arizona Christian (38-20) plays Hope International (Calif.) at 11:05 a.m. back at Harris Field in a loser-out game.

Rewriting the book

In the top of the seventh, Reinhardt's Matty Maurer launched a solo home run over the right field wall on the first pitch, extending the Eagles' lead to 23-13. It was Reinhardt's seventh home run of the game, matching the single-game record.

Lance Dockery's three-run homer an inning later set a new Series record for most long balls by a team in a game (eight) and tied the mark for most hits for a team in a contest (25). This blast bolstered the Eagles' lead to 29-13.

Tucker Zdunich hit his third home run of the contest, tying the record for most homers by an individual player in a Series game. This bomb gave the Eagles a 30-13 lead in the top of the ninth inning. The hit also set new records for most knocks by a single team (26) and most combined hits (44) during a game. It also tied the record for most combined homers (11).

The teams finished with a combined 45 hits, and Reinhardt accounted for 27 of them.

In a dominant performance, Zdunich's two-RBI triple in the top of the seventh inning brought his RBI total to eight. The timely triple gave the Eagles a 25-13 lead, tying the Series record for most runs scored by a single team.

Zdunich's impressive performance included nine RBIs, just one shy of a new record. He capped off the day by going 6-for-7 at the plate.

In the next at-bat, Lewis drove in Zdunich, breaking the event's single-game run record and extending the lead to 26-13.

The Eagles' 29 RBI was also a single-game record.

The two teams' combined total of 43 runs also set a new record.

"As a competitor, coach and player, to be in this history book, I mean, you can't ask for anything more," Burton said. "There are so many great players, coaches and teams. It's an honor to be a part of that. But obviously, we're not chasing records; if those happen, that's great— we're wanting to win the prize. That's the goal; that's why we came here. But to be in the record books with those names, that's special too."

Double 7s

In the top of the second inning, the Eagles pulled away by scoring seven runs.

Reinhardt's seventh, eighth, and ninth hitters reached base, bringing leadoff man Jarrett Bruney back to the plate. Bruney reached first safely and scored a run, tying the game at 3-3.

Dockery, the Eagles' number two hitter, recorded an RBI single to put his team up for good at 4-3.

Nash Gifford's two-RBI double extended Reinhardt's lead to 6-3, effectively ending Arizona Christian pitcher Eastyn Culp's outing.

In the same inning, Dylan Lewis' RBI double gave Reinhardt a 7-3 lead. Later on, Adrian Vargas hit a two-RBI home run, concluding the Eagles' seven-run outburst.

The Firestorm battled relentlessly to extinguish the raging flames engulfing Reinhardt's offense. But they failed to do so.

In the top of the third, the Eagles got two runners in scoring position from fielding errors with no outs.

Burney hit a soft liner in front of Arizona Christian catcher Ryan Eastham, who then caught pinch-runner Jamel Rokard in a pickle between third and home. Eastham's errant throw to the third baseman allowed Rokard to score, marking the third error of the inning and extending the lead to 10-3.

Dockery's two-RBI double gave the Eagles a 12-3 lead, ending the night for Arizona Christian pitcher Evan Hieb.

Zdunich and Dylan Lewis hit consecutive home runs, bolstering their team's lead over the Firestorm.

Zdunich hit his second homer of the game, this time a three-run shot, bolstering the Eagles' lead to 15-3 with no outs.

Lewis recorded a solo shot over the left field wall to continue the blowout; it was Reinhardt's 10th hit of the game.

The Eagles scored seven runs on just three hits, and Arizona Christian committed three errors.

"Everybody wanted it," Burton said. "When you're scoring runs like that, everybody wants to hit, and when everybody gets a chance and they come through, it makes it even more special. But these guys have been hungry since we got here; we know what kind of team we have."

A weird night for the Firestorm

Kane Kiaunis, the Firestorm's third baseman, saw some time on the hill; it was his seventh appearance of the season. He came in with seven strikeouts and 11 walks.

Arizona Christian cycled through four pitchers before turning to the position player.

A pop-out and double play allowed Kiaunis to escape the inning unscathed on the mound.

Riley Quinton, a pitcher, unexpectedly took the field at third base for Kiaunis. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Quinton stepped up to the plate and blasted a solo home run, his second of the season, cutting the Firestorm's deficit in half to 22-11.

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, tpixley@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @TreebTalks.

AT A GLANCE

Reinhardt 30

Arizona Christian 13

STARS OF THE GAME

Reinhardt right fielder TUCKER ZDUINCH was 6-for-7 at the plate, tying an event record with three homers.

Reinhardt designated hitter DYLAN LEWIS was 5-for-7 at the dish with two home runs and six RBI

Reinhardt center fielder LANCE DOCKERY was 3-for-7 at bat with six RBI.

QUOTE OF NOTE

"We've been healthy this year and knock on wood that it stays that way, and if we do, we'll be in every game that we play. ... With this offense and the right people on the mound at the right time, it's going to give us a great chance to win."

-Reinhardt coach Jonathan Burton on his team's success