Owls stymied by Southeastern (Fla.) in NAIA Opener

— William Woods’ offense came alive just a little too late.

The No. 3 seeded Owls collected 13 hits, but found themselves in a 10-run hole early on in falling to the No. 2 Southeastern (Fla.) University Fire 11-5 to begin play in the Lawrenceville (Ga.) Bracket of the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round on Monday at Grizzly Baseball Complex.

William Woods (39-11) will play the fourth-seeded Westmont (Calif.) Warriors in an elimination game at 11 a.m. today. The Warriors (38-19) dropped their opener to the No. 5 University St. Francis (Ill.) Fighting Saints 2-1 on Monday. The winner between the Owls and Westmont continues its stay in the tournament against the Fighting Saints or top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett at 2:30 today.

The Fire (45-14) broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the top of the third inning. Center fielder Ryan Knuth led off the frame with a single then stole second base. Third baseman Stetson McCollin pushed Knuth to third base with a single to left field then stole second base to put runners at second and third with nobody out. TJ Glessner grounded out to third to drive in Knuth for the game’s first run.

First baseman Bryan Muniz hit an RBI single to center to score McCollin then moved to second on a single by catcher Aldo Ferrante. Muniz went to third on Owls senior shortstop Sam Moon’s errant throw then scored on a single to right by second baseman Ricky DeArmas to make it a 3-0 lead for Southeastern.

Shortstop Luis Diaz capped off the Fire’s third inning with a sacrifice fly to to center to plate pinch-runner Hunter Bonner.

Moon cut William Woods’ deficit to 4-1 with a one-out, sacrifice fly to center to drive in junior pinch-runner Javier Ledesma in the bottom of the third.

Southeastern exploded for seven runs on seven hits in the fourth to push out to a 10-run cushion. Ferrante hit a one-out, three-run double to left to drive in McCollin, Glessner and Muniz and end the day for Owls’ senior starting pitcher Dane Smith.

Smith took the loss, giving up eight runs on nine hits, walking two and striking out one.

Bonner — pinch running for Ferrante — scored on designated hitter Corbin Weeks’ double to right off of William Woods junior reliever Ryan Yuengel. Weeks scored on a wild pitch by Yuengel while DeArmas reached on a single. DeArmas scored on a wild throw by Owls’ junior second baseman Nick Spagnola. The Fire closed out their scoring on a single by right fielder Aaron Sheaks which plated Diaz and gave Southeastern an 11-1 lead.

The Fire closed out the day with 15 hits.

Moon blooped a single to right field to score redshirt junior designated hitter Dustin Kremer with one out to spark a four-run bottom of the sixth for William Woods. Junior center fielder Cody Stewart’s sacrifice fly to right plated senior right fielder Damon Adrian and the Owls finished their scoring with respective two-out, RBI singles from senior first baseman Matt Thomas and senior left fielder Zach Nichols.

William Woods left the bases loaded in the seventh then stranded lone runners in the eighth and ninth innings to finish the game.

Stewart finished 3-for-4 with a triple, while Kremer went 3-for-5. Adrian was 2-for-2 with a double and Nichols was 2-for-5 as the Owls committed two errors.

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