On Thursday night, the Santa Fe baseball team played its fifth game in a week and its third game in three days.
That contributed to a 16-9 loss at Class 6A Forest (Ocala).
“It was our third game in three days, but it was their third game in three days, and I think you kind of saw both teams were just trying to get through it and get to next week,” said Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring. “But credit them, they played better than we did, and they deserved to win.”
The Raiders (18-6) took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Dylan Evans singled to start the game and scored on a bases-loaded walk by Kyler Nowling off of FSU commit Mason Laurito, who ended up surrendering eight runs on six hits in 3.1 innings.
UNF signee Zane Starling, who started on the mound for the Raiders, also walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-0 and the Raiders added another run on a throwing error by the catcher for a 3-0 lead.
Forest (18-4) answered in the bottom of the second inning with two runs off of Starling.
After Santa Fe added a run in the top of the third for a 4-2 lead, the Wildcats batted around in the bottom of the inning, sending 12 batters to the plate, and scoring six runs on four hits, chasing Starling off the mound.
However, down 8-4 in the top of the fourth inning, the Raiders battled back.
With the bases loaded, Santa Fe College signee Matthew Geelhoed hit a grand slam to center field to tie the game at 8-8.
Dalton Dampier’s sacrifice fly to right field drove in Don’trell Jenkins and gave the Raiders their final lead at 9-8.
“I’m proud of how we battled when we got down 8-4,” Yeckring said. “We could have folded up the tent and just said, ‘hey, we’ll get them next week,’ but we scored five and took the lead and got a new sense of life, but we just couldn’t hold them tonight and their hitters did a really nice job of making us throw pitches in the zone and when we did, they hit it.”
Connor DeGeorge and Tyler Thomas each had 2-run doubles in the fourth inning as the Wildcats scored five runs to reclaim the lead at 13-9.
Forest, which will be the top seed in next week’s 6A-District 4 tournament, finished with eight unanswered runs and pounded out 13 hits.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe will turn its attention to next week’s 4A-District 4 tournament.
The top-seeded Raiders will play on Tuesday in the district semifinals against the winner of the Palatka-Eastside game. The district championship game is on Thursday.
“Everyone in the state come Monday is 0-0 and a brand-new season starts,” Yeckring said. “Overall, we look at the big picture, we went 18-6 and played a really tough schedule for a 4A club and I think that will have us prepared come playoff time.”