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NWF Advances to First National Championship Since 2015 With 13-3 Victory Over Georgia Highlands

NWF Advances to First National Championship Since 2015 With 13-3 Victory Over Georgia Highlands


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – For the first time since 2015, Northwest Florida State baseball is heading back to the National Championship game after defeating (4) Georgia Highlands 13-3 in six innings on Thursday.


Once again, the Raiders' bats were the highlight of this game. Northwest Florida managed to score 13 runs on 15 hits, including four home runs. Bryce Hubbard smashed two homers, while Cade Sadler and Jaquae Stewart each recorded a homer.


The Raiders' big win was highlighted by a seven-run sixth inning. Jaquae Stewart drew a walk to score one, Kendrey Maduro singled to drive in another, Cade Sadler smashed a grand slam to center field, and Hubbard capped the inning with a solo home run to right field.


Northwest Florida started the scoring early in the first inning with two singles, with Maduro's single bringing in the first run and Brock Tapper's bringing home the second run, giving the Raiders the early 2-0 advantage.


Grayson Godbee's homer to left field in the bottom of the second helped Georgia Highlands tie the game at 2-2. However, in the top of the fourth, Colby Jones singled to shortstop, beating the throw to give the Raiders a 3-2 lead.


The Raiders extended their lead in the fifth inning with three more runs, courtesy of home runs by Stewart and Hubbard, putting Northwest Florida in front by four. The seven run sixth inning was the nail in the coffin as the Raiders took a ten-point advantage, leaving them the opportunity to secure the victory in the bottom half of the inning, which they did.  


Sam Strek (Schafer) earned the win for the Raiders, pitching six innings and giving up four hits and three runs (two earned), with no strikeouts and two walks. Trip Dovale took the loss for Georgia Highlands, surrendering 13 runs on 15 hits over five and one-third innings, striking out six and walking five.


Sadler, the number seven hitter, led the Raiders with four RBIs, going 1-for-4 with a grand slam home run. Maduro and Cayden Gaskin each had three hits, while Jones, Hubbard, and Stewart each collected two hits.


The Raiders have been on an absolute tear after losing the opener in Grand Junction last Saturday, falling to (9) Southern Nevada 7-6 in extras. The team has rallied four consecutive victories, outscoring their opponents 59-14 in those four games, including three run-rule victories.


The Raiders are one victory away from accomplishing their goal of bringing home the program's first national championship since that historic 2015 run. The 2015 squad won 42 games that year. It went 5-1 in Grand Junction, scoring 53 runs in the tournament, and defeated McClennan College 15-1 in the title game for the program's first and only National Championship. This 2024 Raiders team is eerily similar to that 2015. However, whether they can bring home the coveted championship is yet to be seen. We will find out Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (CDT) when the Raiders face the winner of (4) Georgia Highlands and (6) Blinn for the NJCAA National Championship.