By NWF DAILY NEWS
TALLAHASSEE — The Raiders streak had to end sometime.
Winners of eight straight, the Northwest Florida State baseball team dropped its first game in more than two weeks, 4-3, against the Eagles in Game 1 of Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee before it straightened up and blew out Tallahassee, 8-3 in Game 2.
In Game 1, NWF State (28-7 overall, 9-2 Panhandle Conference) got started quickly, putting up two runs in the top of the first inning before adding its third in the top of the second.
Tallahassee (20-14, 1-6) kept chipping away, though, and Eagles starter Chase Forester settled in to pitch 5 1/3 scoreless frames after a rocky start. Tallahassee scored one run in each of the first, fourth and sixth innings before walking it off in the bottom of the eighth.
A sophomore right-hander, Forester finished with seven strikeouts against six hits, three earned runs and a two walks in 7 1/3 innings.
Matching up against Forester, the Raiders weren't able to muster a multi-hit game from anyone in their lineup, an odd occurrence for a team batting a collective .300.
Sophomore Kaden Polcovich went just 1-for-3, though his lone hit was a solo home run. Fort Walton Beach alumnus Justice Lucas also launched an extra-base hit, bashing a double. Kyle Fitzgerald and Brandon Riera also had an RBI each, both going 1-for-3.
Behind a five-run second inning, NWF State took control early against Tallahassee starter Javier Baldor and forced him out of the game only 1 2/3 innings into his outing. Baldor surrendered five hits, six earned runs and two walks against a single strikeout.
The Eagles used a contingent of five relievers to finish out the game, though only one lasted more than a single inning, Trace Moore pitching two scoreless frames with two strikeouts.
On the mound for the Raiders, Conor Angel and Connor Stephens split Game 2 down the middle, the former pitching 3 2/3 innings and the latter the remaining 3 1/3. Together, they combined to allow just three hits and three earned runs with 10 strikeouts.
In the batter's box, Madej led the way with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate for three RBIs. Smith had two more RBIs, while catcher Tanner Johnson went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a triple and two runs scored.
The Raiders return to action at 5 p.m. Tuesday to finish out a four-game set with the Eagles in Niceville.