By SETH STRINGER
TALLAHASSEE – There's been no shortage of pitching gems for NWF State this season. The same can be said for Raiders feet on the base paths.
Added up, Doug Martin's crew entered Saturday as the hottest team in the country.
But amid all the wins, Saturday's proved the high point so far. Yep, the Raiders are Panhandle Conference champions for the first time since 2011.
Niceville alumnus Matt Boswell fanned 11 in a gem and the Raiders defeated Tallahassee 3-2 on the road to improve to 38-8 overall and 19-3 in the Panhandle, which had previously been won by Chipola five straight years.
Cue the well-deserved celebration for the Raiders, who are postseason bound for the Region 8 tournament next month.
With a two-game set against Chipola left to finish the regular season, everything is working for the Raiders.
The staff ERA is 1.99, the lineup is hitting .302 with a .411 on-base percentage and the Raiders have outscored foes 329-108 on the campaign.
Saturday's win featured much of the same – timely hits, dominant pitching and rock-solid defense.
While sporting an 11:1 strikeout/walk ratio, Boswell allowed just two runs on six hits over 7 2/3. Jackson Boyd, lowering his lights-out .84 ERA, quashed an eighth-inning, two-run rally to pick up the four-out save for his ninth of the season.
While Tallahassee's arms held NWF State to five hits, Will Moriarty supplied the power with a solo blast and Tanner Johnson and Kyle Fitzgerald each drove in a run for the Raiders, who scored in the second, sixth and eighth innings.
It was the 29th win in the last 32 games for the Raiders, who has a winning record against all Panhandle foes and hasn't lost a series since Feb. 16.
The Raiders now travel to Chipola (27-15, 14-6) on Monday before hosting the Indians for the regular-season finale on Wednesday.