LAKELAND, Fla. (May 13, 2015) - The Northwest Florida State College Raiders won its first-ever state baseball championship with an 8-7 win over Palm Beach State College on Wednesday.
With the win, the Raiders were crowned FCSAA State Champions. More importantly, they qualified for the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
Northwest Florida State navigated its way through the 10-team tournament without a loss, winning five straight games.
The Raiders, ranked sixth in the final FCSAA Baseball Coaches' Poll, opened tournament play with a 6-3 win over No. 4 Polk State College. Following an off day, Northwest Florida State downed Panhandle Conference rival and ninth-ranked Gulf Coast State College, 2-1, to advance to the winner's bracket final, where it picked off No. 7 State College of Florida, 7-4.
Down to its final three outs on Tuesday, the Raiders erased a 3-0 deficit with six runs in the top of the ninth to eliminate top-ranked St. Johns River State College, 6-3. That win kept Northwest Florida State out of a win-or-go-home scenario on Wednesday. Instead, the Raiders knew they would have two chances to win their way to Grand Junction, if needed.
As it turns out, one game was enough.
Northwest Florida State's Aaron Palmer was named the Bob Zelinski Most Valuable Player, Brian Browning was voted the Bob Perky Pitcher of the Tournament and head coach Doug Martin was awarded FCSAA Coach of the Year.
NJCAA Poll Update
St. Johns River State College, who ended the season ranked No. 1 in the FCSAA Baseball Coaches' Poll, remained the highest-ranked team from Region 8 in the NJCAA Division I Baseball Poll, coming in at No. 3. The Vikings dropped one spot from last week's rankings.
St. Johns River State's season came to an end on Tuesday at the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA State Baseball Tournament, falling to eventual champion Northwest Florida State.
Chipola College, who also saw its season end at the state tournament, is ranked No. 8.