By SETH STRINGER
Kush, two days after lasting only 1/3 of an inning with four runs allowed at Gulf Coast State, pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit, nine-strikeout ball in NWF State's 7-5 win at home over Tallahassee.
Like Tuesday's comeback from 5-0 down, the Raiders rallied Thursday for their eighth straight win.
Niceville alumnus Matt Boswell gave up five runs – three earned – over 1 2/3 innings and departed with a 5-1 deficit. In came Kush (5-1), who posted zeros to let his lineup regroup.
The Raiders, ranked ninth nationally and third in Region 8, posted four runs in the third inning behind a grand slam from Will Moriarty. Kyle Fitzgerald later delivered the game-winning base knock in the fifth to drive in a pair.
Moriarty, leading the team with 33 RBIs and hitting an astonishing .417 with four homers, finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs, two runs and a walk for a Raiders hit parade that included 11 hits and four free passes. Fitzgerald went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Mikey Madej and Jake Randa, hitting an almost-unreal .418, each had two base knocks and scored twice.
Jackson Boyd earned the save with a scoreless ninth to move the Raiders (27-6) to 8-1 in the Panhandle and within a ½ game of Chipola (20-9, 8-0). In a distant third is Gulf Coast State (19-10, 1-4), followed by Pensacola State (14-20, 1-8) and Tallahassee (19-13, 0-5).
The Raiders are now hitting a collective .301 with 7.8 runs per game, backing a pitching staff that sports a 1.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.53 strikeouts per nine innings.
Next up for Doug Martin's crew is a trip to Tallahassee Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at noon.