The battle for first place in the Panhandle Conference baseball standings has been tight-knit for the last month of action. Gulf Coast and Chipola have both held their share of the throne and have both let it slip away.
As each squad had four games left in their conference slate entering Monday, they are only separated by a half a game in the ranks, one in the loss column. Both have made the state tournament, but one slip up the rest of the way could help seal the Panhandle conference title for the other.
Gulf Coast gave Chipola the opportunity, as they struggled mightily against Northwest Florida in Niceville, falling to the Raiders 9-1 in seven innings and coming short of a season sweep of NWF.
Yet Chipola couldn't take advantage themselves, losing to last place Pensacola on the road 2-1, also finding inability to get the bats going.
The Raiders win ups their Conference mark back past .500, moving to 9-8 and helping put them in position to earn a play-in game opportunity to make the FCSAA State Tournament field. They face the team their battling for that distinction, Tallahasse, who sits three games back of third, at the Eagles' field Tuesday.
Gulf Coast will either increase their lead to a game up on the Indians or fall even with Chipola when they battle Pensacola at Frazier Field at 5 PM Tuesday. The Indians are off until Wednesday when they travel to Niceville to face Northwest Florida.
Here are the updated Panhandle Standings entering Tuesday:
Gulf Coast 3-4 36-10
Chipola 13-5 34-10
Northwest Florida 9-8 27-15
Tallahassee 6-11 34-16
Pensacola 3-16 14-33