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Raiders saddle Chargers with first World Series loss; GHC faces a rematch with Bucs

May 31, 2024 Charles Wilson / BartowSportsZone.com

Georgia Highlands Baseball lost for just the second time in eleven post-season games on Thursday night but remains in contention for the 2024 NJCAA national championship in Grand Junction, Colorado.


Northwest Florida State, who lost in the first round of the 10-team, double-elimination World Series bracket last Saturday, defeated the Chargers on Thursday 13-3 in six innings.


The win for the Raiders (40-14) puts them in Saturday’s national championship game and marks their fourth straight win in an elimination game. Northwest Florida State last won the national title in 2015.


The loss for Georgia Highlands (56-9) was their first in the World Series following wins over McLennan (Texas), Johnson County (Kansas), and Blinn (Texas) in earlier rounds. The Chargers and the Blinn Buccaneers will rematch Friday night (9 p.m. EDT) in an elimination game with the winner advancing to Saturday’s national title game.


GHC defeated Blinn (45-17) 15-14 in a third-round slugfest at the World Series this past Tuesday. That game saw seven lead changes and was decided in the bottom of the ninth inning by Ryan Martin’s walk-off two-run home run.


Georgia Highlands has already faced elimination games this postseason. After sweeping three straight wins in their Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association conference title run, the Chargers lost the first game of the best-of-three Appalachian District series at Dyersburg State (Tennessee). They rebounded the next day to sweep a road doubleheader and qualified for the program’s first World Series appearance.


Chargers' shortstop Luke Orfi had two hits in GHC's loss on Thursday.

Northwest Florida State pounded out 15 hits, including four home runs in Thursday night’s win over Georgia Highlands while Raiders’ pitcher Sam Strek limited the Chargers’ offense.


Strek tossed a complete-game four-hitter and walked only two. Two of the three GHC runs were earned on Grayson Godbee’s two-run homer in the second inning that tied the game at the time.


The Chargers didn’t score again until the bottom of the fifth when they narrowed the Raiders’ lead to 6-3. Northwest Florida State put the game away in the top of the sixth inning by scoring seven times. The big blow was a grand slam home run by Cade Sadler.


Luke Orfi had two hits for the Chargers and CJ Blackwell added one.


Trip Dovale, who was GHC’s Game 1 winning pitcher, suffered Thursday’s pitching loss. He was charged with 13 earned runs on 15 hits and five walks. He struck out six. Max Eichenberger (0.2 IP, 0R, 1BB) retired the final two outs of the sixth inning in relief.

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