Owls Close Out Regular Season with Pair of Wild Wins
FULTON, MO -- The William Woods University baseball team hung a dozen runs on the scoreboard in both ends of a split doubleheader to close out the regular season on Tuesday night. A nine-run seventh powered WWU to a 12-4 win over McKendree University in the opener, with the Owls battling back from eight runs down for a thrilling 12-11 win over Culver-Stockton College in the nightcap.
McKendree capitalized on an error from the Owls to score a run in the top of the first, but WWU would return the favor in the bottom of the frame to knot the score at 1-1.
After two scoreless innings, McKendree opened up a 3-1 lead, again taking advantage of an error from WWU.
Derek McCawley would level the game in the bottom of the sixth, belting a two-run home run over the left field fence, scoring Brian Carr who had led off the inning with a triple. The Owls weren't able to take the lead, however, despite a single from Matt Thomas. Robert Butvin struckout and Austin Clapp lined to second, with Thomas getting caught off the bag to end the inning.
McKendree pushed back to a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, but the Owls nipped the threat with a nifty double play of their own.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Owls needed just three hits to torch the Bearcats for nine runs. After an error put Chris Fletcher on base to open the inning, a Justin Elmore bunt moved pinch runner Andrew Pointer up to second before he swiped third. Fletcher re-entered, but would be held at third as Derek Fletcher popped out to second. Back-to-back walks would load the bases and chase Bryce Harre - who'd entered in relief for McKendree - from the game, but McCawley would make quick work of the inherited runners, cracking a three-RBI double to left-center. The Owls would add six more runs in the inning, including a bases-loaded walk, for the 12-4 lead.
And despite threatening in the bottom of the eighth, the Owls couldn't add to the margin. Gianfaro Randazzo earned the win for the Owls, allowing just two hits in 1.2 innings of work to move to 2-0 on the year.
In the nightcap, the Owls got a sluggish start, coughing up eight runs - one in the first and seven in the second - to Culver-Stockton before getting on the scoreboard themselves with two in the bottom of the second.
The Wildcats added singlets in the top of the third and top of the fourth to take a 10-2 lead and it looked as if the nightcap was headed to an early end.
But a four-run fourth breathed new life into the WWU dugout, as Kyle Switzer led off the inning with a single, followed by one-out singles from Elmore and Damon Adrian to load the bases. A three-RBI double from Chris Fletcher cleared the bases, with Parker Watkins plating Fletcher to pull the Owls within a 10-6 margin.
CSC scratched out a run in the top of the fifth to push the lead back to 11-6, but WWU responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame and shut down the Wildcats in the top of the sixth.
A three-run sixth brought the game back to level terms at 11-11, as the Owls punished a CSC error in the frame. Zach Woody led off with a single before Derek Fletcher came in as a pinch hitter for the Owls. Fletcher hit a routine double play ball to short, but the Wildcat second baseman wasn't able to get a handle on the toss, with Woody safe at second and Fletcher safe on the fielder's choice. McCawley sent a pinch-hit double deep to left-center to score Woody. Matt Thomas hit a two-out two-RBI single to tie the game, but WWU couldn't take the lead outright, striking out to end the inning.
Neither team was able to score in the seventh and the Owls kept the Wildcats off the board in the top of the eighth despite a two-out double, as Thomas stepped back on the mound to close out the inning with his second strikeout of the game.
For as much excitement as the game had already held, the Owls would send the home fans off in thrilling fashion in the bottom of the eighth, as WWU worked the bases loaded with two outs. After a leadoff single from Austin Clapp WWU managed only to move Clapp to second. A single from Elmore pushed Clapp to third. With Thomas at the plate, Elmore swiped second, prompting an unconventional intentional walk to Thomas to fill the bases.
A pitching change from the Wildcats let the suspense build as Jacob Harrison stepped to the plate. On the first pitch, the junior squared and pushed a squeeze bunt towards first, sprinting down the line. With a diving slide, Harrison beat CSC's James Coon to the bag as Clapp slid home.
The Owls finish the regular season with a record of 33-17 and are set to open the AMC Postseason Tournament on Friday. As the no. 3 seed, WWU takes on no. 2 seed Park at 3:30 p.m.