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GAME 17: Doggone Bulldogs hand Reinhardt its first Series loss

May 30—The nightcap of Wednesday's Avista NAIA World Series festivities featured a clash of two visually striking jersey combinations: Reinhardt's white with vibrant sun yellow trim and Tennessee Wesleyan's deep planet blue threads.

And the action on the diamond wasn't too bad for the 1,330 fans in attendance.

The sixth-seeded Bulldogs solidified their status as the tournament's most well-rounded team by defeating the fifth-seeded Eagles 6-2 at Harris Field in Lewiston. With the victory, Tennessee Wesleyan (43-17) handed Reinhardt (44-17) its first loss of the tournament, and the pair of teams will play again at 6:35 p.m. today in a loser-out game.

"It's a special group, and they're playing hard," Tennessee Wesleyan coach Billy Berry said. "I keep telling people, man, as long as they keep passing us lineup cards and meal money, we'll stick around and keep playing."

Making the most of their spots

After a scoreless fourth inning, Carson Ford hit a line drive down the first-base line, which went for a triple. Braxton Turner then drove him in during the next at-bat, putting the Bulldogs in front 3-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles threatened to tie the game as Jacob Profit and Jarrett Burney reached base with singles. However, Tennessee Wesleyan pitcher Daniel Davila thwarted the rally, striking out two of the next three batters to escape the inning unscathed.

Davila picked up two more Ks in the bottom of the sixth to keep the Eagles at bay. The hurler had an outstanding 8 2/3 innings on the bump, giving up two runs on six hits and striking out 10.

"How about Daniel Davila, man? I mean, come on," Berry said. "(He) hasn't made a start since about the conference tournament and didn't make a start in the Opening Round. We put him in the pen, and he was the freshest guy we had tonight. ... He's got that really fierce but calm demeanor; it's all business for him."

Reinhardt's left fielder Adrian Vargas recorded a crucial third out in the bottom of the seventh inning, preserving a scoreless inning for Tennessee Wesleyan. Eagles' pitcher Adam Christopher celebrated the pivotal play with a shout and a fist pump.

The impactful series of events from Reinhardt didn't matter much, as the Bulldogs' defense once again rose to the occasion and kept the Eagles off the scoreboard for the fourth consecutive inning. Reinhardt was held scoreless in the final six frames.

"We fielded the doggone ball tonight," Berry said. "We were able to pick the doggone ball up, and we were able to throw the doggone ball across the infield tonight."

Braxton Turner cleared the bases with a three-RBI double for the final 6-2 margin in the top of the eighth inning.

A rare occurrence

The game was a defensive affair, a rarity for this year's tournament.

Tennessee Wesleyan and Reinhardt each had a brisk first inning to start the game. The Bulldogs retired the Eagles in order to open the contest, and Tennessee Wesleyan went four up, four down.

Reinhardt's outfielders showcased their athletic abilities in the top of the second inning.

In shallow center field, center fielder Lance Dockery raced to catch a blooper hit by Dante Leach, securing the out with a diving grab and rolling to the grass to keep the Bulldogs scoreless in the inning.

Earlier in the frame, Vargas recorded the first out with a remarkable catch deep in foul territory, well out of sight from the press box.

Despite their defensive efforts, Reinhardt failed to score any runs, going down in order in the bottom of the second inning for the second time.

Reinhardt's infielders attempted to one-up their teammates in the outfield with their series of highlight plays.

Burney fielded a deep ground ball and unleashed a powerful throw to first baseman Nash Crowell, who recorded the out on Carson Ford.

Crowell celebrated with a brief shimmy after the play was reviewed and confirmed.

The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead from a Marco Martinez two-run homer over the left field wall in the same inning, temporarily ending the Eagles' celebration.

The Eagles got their wings back in the bottom half of the inning, starting with an RBI single from Burney.

In the next at-bat, Burney showcased his lightning speed on the basepaths, as Dockery ripped an RBI double to center field, scoring the first baseman.

Despite Dockery's shallow hit, Burney turned on his afterburners and cruised around the bases, sliding home to knot the game at 3-3.

Painting a picture

The action intensified as the fourth inning progressed, but it came from the stands and the sky rather than the players on the field.

Rain spurted down from the dark clouds in the air at Harris Field; it wasn't a heavy downpour, but it was enough for many in the audience to retreat to their cars for the evening.

The drizzle halted in the bottom of the fourth, creating a backdrop behind Harris Field that only Bob Ross could paint.

Oh, and the game started to pick up as well.

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

ATA GLANCE

Tennessee Wesleyan 6

Reinhardt 2

PLAYERS OF THE GAME

Eagles' pitcher DANIEL DAVILA allowed two earned runs on six hits and struck out 10 batters in 8 2/3 innings.

Tennessee Wesleyan left fielder BRAXTON TURNER was 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBI.

Eagles' shortstop MARCO MARTINEZ logged the game's lone home run.

QUOTE OF NOTE

"Man, just keep fighting — you can see it; you watched it last night; you're watching it again tonight. They got a ton of fight in them, and they got a ton of belief right now."

— Tennessee Wesleyan coach Billy Berry on his team's current run.