It was almost do or die for the Santa Fe College baseball team at home on Wednesday afternoon.
The Saints entered the game two games out of second place with only five games to go, and the second-place team would also win, narrowing the margin of error for a postseason berth.
However, SF defeated visiting Daytona State College, 10-2, to keep its hopes alive for a state playoff berth.
The Saints (26-21, 14-12 Mid-Florida Conference), who will look for the sweep on Friday, got a three-run double from No. 9 hitter Hunter Keen in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the game early via the Mercy Rule.
The Saints pounded out 14 hits, only committed one error, and Lance Bolton pitched a complete-game four-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“I always say if we play good defense, and I’d like to see what our record is when we commit no errors or one error, because we usually win,” said SF baseball coach Johnny Wiggs. “Bolton was really solid for us, threw all three pitches for strikes and pounded the strike zone. Offense has been clicking pretty good as of late.”
All nine starters had at least one hit.
Devin Nowels homered in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead but that would be the only time the Saints would trail.
SF answered in the bottom of the first with a run on two hits by Jevin Relaford and Fort White High School alum Tyler Shelnut, who recently signed with the University of Florida. Gaby Esquivel grounded out to second to score Relaford.
Santiago Garavito doubled in a run in the third and JP Herrholtz singled in a run for a two-run lead.
With the Saints holding a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Shelnut (2-for-4), who recently tied the program record for home runs in a season (19), doubled with one out and Esquivel (17 home runs) had a triple to the gap in the right center field to drive in Shelnut for a 5-1 lead.
SF entered the day tied with St. Johns River, which lost and dropped to 13-13 in league play. The Saints own the tiebreaker against the Vikings but that’s not who they are chasing.
The College of Central Florida has clinched the conference championship and an FCSAA Tournament berth.
Seminole State College, which defeated Lake-Sumter State College, 13-4, on Wednesday has a two-game lead on the Saints. SSC holds the tiebreaker against SF, with four wins in six head-to-head meetings.
The top two seeds in the conference earn a postseason bid.
Santa Fe College has four games remaining, concluding the three-game series against the Falcons in Daytona on Friday at 1 p.m., followed by a three-game series against LSSC, April 23, 25 and 27. Two of the three games will be in Gainesville.
SSC will play at LSSC on Friday, followed by a three-game series against conference leader COCF.
“We’re trying to do our part and win out and see what happens,” Wiggs said. “We’ve got a chance, but we’ve got to keep doing our part winning baseball games.”