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Higginbothem, Eagles slug their way past NWF State
 April 8, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 8, 2013) – Trent Higginbothem enjoyed a perfect 5-for-5 day at the plate and Nick Deckert kept his unbeaten record intact on the mound as top-ranked Tallahassee Community College began the stretch run of the Panhandle Conference baseball season with an 11-3 win over Northwest Florida State College on Monday evening.

Tallahassee (38-5) has won nine straight PC games and is 12-1 in league play. The win reduced the Eagles’ magic number for clinching the conference championship to four and kept their lead over second-place Gulf Coast State College (8-5) at four games with seven left in the regular season.

Northwest Florida State (20-17) dropped to 4-9 in PC action.

Higginbothem capped his five-hit game with a walk-off single in the seventh that plated Anthony Torres with the clinching run. Earlier in the inning, Clay Fenwick’s sac-fly to straightaway center scored Kevin Cruz to give the Eagles a 10-3 lead.

Deckert, meanwhile, was one out shy of earning the complete-game victory. After retiring the first two batters in the seventh, he struck out Lucas Brown but the pitch scooted away from catcher James Abbatinozzi allowing Brown to reach first. With the inning extended, the Raiders took advantage – consecutive singles resulted in a run and knocked out Deckert.

Reliever Ethan Bornstein uncorked a wild pitch then walked Nick Masonia to load the bases, but he barehanded Steven Jernigan’s one-hopper up the middle and tossed to first to end the scoring threat and keep the Eagles comfortably in front, 9-3.

While Tallahassee was playing for the first time in a week, Northwest Florida State took the field for the fourth time in five days. Needing wins to stay within striking distance of second-place Gulf Coast State, the Raiders handed the ball to ace righty Luke Papanicolaou, who was pitching on three days’ rest. He lasted only three batters.

Torres and Chad Mabini led off the game with back-to-back doubles to plate the first run. Two wild pitches brought Mabini home from second and after Fenwick drew a walk, Papanicolaou’s day was done.

Tallahassee’s was just beginning.

The Eagles added three more runs in the first to stake Deckert to a 5-0 lead. In two games against Northwest Florida State at Eagle Field, Tallahassee has outscored the Raiders, 16-0.

Northwest Florida State crept back in the game with single runs in the second and third, but managed to advance only one runner to second base over the next three innings.

Tallahassee got the two runs back in the fourth then scored two more in the sixth on Matt Bahnick’s two-out double down the left field line.

Six of the Eagles’ 15 hits went for doubles, including two by Higginbothem.

Tyler York (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI), Bahnick (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Abbatinozzi (2-for-4, RBI) also enjoyed multi-hit evenings for the Eagles.

Deckert improved to 8-0 with the win. He scattered seven hits and two walks over 6.2 innings.

Tallahassee and Northwest Florida State will wrap up their season series on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. date in Niceville.

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