Owls blank Missouri Baptist to win AMC tournament title

— Already armed with an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament, the William Woods Owls added an American Midwest Conference baseball tournament title to their load.

Senior first baseman Matt Thomas had four hits and four RBIs and the third-seeded Owls limited the No. 1 Missouri Baptist Spartans to five hits in capturing the conference crown with a 10-0 seven-inning win on Monday at Lanipher Park.

William Woods (39-10) clinched an automatic bid to the national tournament thanks to a come-from-behind 8-6 win over the Spartans in the AMC semifinals on Saturday afternoon. The win total of 39 is a new school-record, surpassing the previous mark of 36 set back in the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

The Owls’ opening round opponent will be revealed on Thursday.

Thomas put William Woods on the board with a one-out single to right field to drive in junior center fielder Cody Stewart in the bottom of the first. Thomas came home later in the frame on senior third baseman Austin Clapp’s groundout to first base.

Thomas put the Owls ahead 3-0 in the second on a two-out single to center to drive in junior pinch-runner Javier Ledesma.

Senior right fielder Damon Adrian increased William Woods’ advantage to four runs in the third when he reached on an error that scored junior second baseman Nick Spagnola. Clapp stole home to push the Owls to a 5-0 edge and senior Sam Moon closed out the frame with an RBI single to drive in Adrian.

Thomas and senior left fielder Zach Nichols both posted RBI singles with no outs in the sixth, increasing William Woods’ cushion to 8-0.

Moon hit an RBI single in the seventh and Thomas singled him in with two outs to end the game on a mercy rule.

Thomas finished 4-for-5 while Moon was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Nichols and senior catcher Kyle Switzer both went 2-for-4 and Stewart was 2-for-5 as the Owls collected 15 hits to win its fourth-straight game and 11th in its last 12 outings.

Senior starter Ryan Schuermann threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings to claim his first win of the year. Schuermann (1-0) struck out two and scattered four hits and didn’t surrender a walk. Junior Dylan Hastings threw the final 1 1/3 innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.

William Woods scored three times in the top of the ninth inning to upend Missouri Baptist (45-12) in Saturday’s semifinal.

The Owls broke a 5-all tie on an RBI single by Thomas to drive in Damon Adrian.

Nichols lengthened the lead with a sacrifice fly to bring in Ledesma. William Woods stretched out to a three-run lead when Spagnola reached on a Spartan error, allowing Moon to score.

Catcher Joseph Stropp began Missouri Baptist’s bottom of the ninth with a solo home run to close to within two runs. Hastings retired the next three batters in order to close out the game and notch his second save of the year.

Hastings allowed an earned run on two hits, walked one and struck out one in 1 2/3 innings.

The Owls opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning, then added three more in the fifth to go up 5-0. The Spartans plated one in the bottom of the fifth then scored four in the seventh to tie up the game.

Thomas finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Spagnola was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a stolen base as William Woods won despite being out-hit 10-9.

Senior starting pitcher Bubba Bradshaw (5-1) took the win on the mound, giving up one earned run on five hits, walking two and striking out two.

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