For the past 17 summers, the Fayetteville SwampDogs have provided great baseball in a fun environment, all at family affordable prices. Each year, fans witness one of the nation’s highest levels of collegiate summer baseball. Living up to the motto, “Where Baseball is Fun,” it was another eventful season at The Swamp as Faynatics packed the bleachers in support of their beloved SwampDogs.
The SwampDogs completed one of their most successful seasons in franchise history clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2014 while also winning the 1st Half East Division Title for the first time since 2011. The SwampDogs compiled a (32-22) regular season record under the tutelage of head coach Matt Hollod (Riverside City College).
The SwampDogs led the Coastal Plain League with a team batting average of .285 and 535 hits in the regular season. Jayson Newman (Cal State Northridge) led the SwampDogs league-leading offense with a new Coastal Plain League record of 56 RBIs while also leading the team with 11 home runs.
The SwampDogs offense would not over shadow stellar pitching from Fayetteville as both Zach Neff (Austin Peay) and Griffin McLarty (College of Charleston) led the SwampDogs’ All-Star selections with Neff going (7-0) while carrying a 1.45 ERA and McLarty also going undefeated at (6-0) with a 1.58 ERA. Neff and McLarty were joined by Austin Edgette (Bloomsburg) and Jay Robinson (New Orleans) for the 2017 All-Star Game in Holly Springs.
The SwampDogs season was highlighted by a 7-game winning streak from June 28 to July 3rd. The winning streak included the SwampDogs 1st Half East Division title clinching double header against the Florence RedWolves on July 1st. The SwampDogs tallied two complete game shutouts from starters Joey Gonzalez (Stetson) and Zach Neff (Austin Peay) including 14 strikeouts from Neff in game two. The SwampDogs took game one 8-0 and game two 12-0.
A sold out July 3rd crowd for the annual Honoring America Fireworks Tribute got to take in not only a spectacular fireworks display but also some fireworks from the game itself. The SwampDogs trailed 6-0 after 4 innings before they took the lead thanks to a seven run 6th inning with Fayetteville winning 9-8 scoring the winning run in the 8th inning on a wild-pitch that scored Fayetteville native Andrew Henrickson to seal the SwampDogs victory.
The SwampDogs not only won on the field but off it as well raising thousands of dollars for local charities. The SwampDogs joined Friendship House Fayetteville for their annual Balls & Strikes Bowling Event raising over $4,000 for the local organization. The annual jersey auctions benefitting the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Friends of the Cancer Center and the Alzheimer’s Association were also a tremendous success, with every jersey being sold in the two auctions raising money for local charities.
The SwampDogs season came to an end in the postseason for the first time since 2014 ending their season as it began in front of the best fans in the Coastal Plain League.
As is always the case, the summer ended too soon in Fayetteville, but nevertheless, another successful season of SwampDogs baseball is in the books. The long proud tradition of CPL baseball in the Cape Fear region continues as the organization is committed every season to making sure each Faynatic has a fun, memorable experience at the ballpark.