After going 5-for-5 with two homers and nine RBIs in his seventh career Pacific Coast League game, does Brett Eibner think Triple-A ball is easy?
"Absolutely not," he said.
It only looked that way on Wednesday afternoon as Eibner's Omaha Storm Chasers routed visiting Memphis, 20-3. The center fielder led a 29-hit attack that saw seven different Storm Chasers collect at least three hits apiece.
There was a stiff 18-mph wind blowing from right to left at Werner Park, but if it aided offense, that help was distinctly one-sided.
"It was tough out there in the outfield for both teams," Eibner said. "I broke back on a ball that fell in front of me once -- the wind was moving all around."
Eibner, who walked in the first inning and smacked a bases-clearing double in the seventh, lost an opportunity for a sixth hit when he was left on deck at the end of the eighth. The last Omaha player with six hits in a game was Matt Diaz back in 2005.
"It was just one of those days where I felt locked in -- it seemed like I got every pitch I was looking for," he said.
Eibner's previous career mark for RBIs in a game was four, set with the Class A Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2012. The PCL record remains 12, set by Pete Schneider of the Vernon Tigers on May 11, 1923. Schneider homered five times in that game.
Each Storm Chaser batter scored, with seven of the nine scoring at least twice. Eibner and first baseman Matt Fields had five hits apiece. Eight of the nine Omaha hitters drove in a run; only right fielder Paulo Orlando, who went 4-for-6, failed to do so. (Last year, Orlando went 8-for-41 in 16 April games; in the first three games of Omaha's four-game set with Memphis this week, he is 10-for-15.)
Before the Storm Chasers took charge, they spotted Memphis a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras' second home run of the season. But the Redbirds would muster just five more hits in the game and Omaha answered with eight runs in the bottom of the inning, capped by Eibner's first blast of the day.
Eibner praised Omaha starter Chris Dwyer, who evened his 2014 record at 1-1 after allowing three runs on four hits and four walks over five frames.
"Even when you've got a big lead, you can't relax at all -- especially on a day like this," he said, referring to the windy conditions. "He kept the ball down and minimized the damage."
Memphis began the day with the league's best team ERA at 1.89 after six games. That mark swelled to 4.18 after the Redbirds surrendered 17 earned runs over eight frames.
Starter Angel Castro -- who had pitched five scoreless innings at Iowa last Friday -- took the loss, allowing 10 runs (seven earned) on 11 hits while throwing 83 pitches over three innings.
The Redbirds will try for a series split in Thursday's finale before heading to Memphis for their home opener on Friday night.