For the past 16 summers, the Fayetteville SwampDogs have provided great baseball 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.
This season created profound memories that will last a lifetime for all of the fans, players, coaches, and organization as a whole. The 2016 summer was highlighted by the SwampDogs hosting the 2016 CPL All-Star Game and festivities. The All-Star weekend consisted of the annual All-Star Fan Fest, Home-Run Derby, major league scout day and the eighteenth annual CPL All-Star Game. Each of the league’s All-Stars also had the chance to take part in a unique experience at the Fort Bragg military base, where players received a tour around the facilities and learned about life as a member of the United States Armed Forces. The nation’s best collegiate baseball players descended on the great city of Fayetteville to showcase their talents and participate in a fun-filled two-day occasion.
The organization’s 16th birthday celebration also took place this season along with the 10th Annual StriKing Out Cancer event, 12th Annual Family Fun Night, multiple fireworks extravaganzas, and many fun-filled promotions throughout the course of the summer.
The ‘Dogs were led by first-year head coach Anthony Williams and his assistant Tim Miller who both come by the way of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Anthony Manley rounded out the 2016 SwampDogs coaching staff. Fayetteville finished this summer with an 18-35 overall record.
Season’s Top Performers
There were many notable contributors on the offensive end for the ‘Dogs this summer. Dan Neff (Millersville) led the Fayetteville bats with a .367 average in 14 games played and 11 starts. Frankie Jezioro (Slippery Rock) had a stellar season at the plate posting a .360 average in 25 games played. Jezioro also compiled 31 hits with three doubles and 12 RBIs.
Trey Vickers (Wichita State) made a significant impact in the SwampDogs lineup this summer, batting .304 in 37 games and led the team with 150 plate appearances. Spending most of his time at shortstop, Vickers posted 48 hits with six doubles and 15 RBIs. Patrick Donnelly (Lehigh) also put together a consistently solid season at the plate hitting .303 with 23 hits, six doubles and a home run with 11 RBIs.
Hunter Dolshun (UMBC) and Tyler Tharp (VMI) tied for the SwampDogs season high total in home runs with five dingers each this summer. Dolshun finished with a .275 average in 40 games with 42 hits, seven doubles, one triple and 32 RBIs. Tharp hit for a .268 average with 40 hits, six doubles and 40 RBIs.
On the mound, south-paw David Marriggi (Towson) posted the lowest earned run average for the SwampDogs this summer. The Towson Tiger finished 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 26 2/3 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts. He also held opponents to a .214 average and recorded two saves in 10 appearances. Right-handed pitcher Nick Yobbi (USC Aiken) also put together a notable season on the bump. Yobbi went 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 44 innings of work. In 10 appearances with seven starts, he posted 35 strikeouts and held his opposing batters to just a .207 average.
The 6-4 righty out of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC), Mike Austin developed into the ace of the SwampDogs pitching staff throughout the majority of the summer. A rising senior for the UMBC Retrievers, Austin played in 14 games with seven starts on the bump for the ‘Dogs, while he posted a 3-5 mark with a 4.14 ERA in 50 innings pitched. He also recorded 40 punch outs on the hill along with a save.
This and That
The SwampDogs began the 2016 campaign with back-to-back victories against their divisional rival the Wilmington Sharks with 9-7 and 12-3 wins on June 1 and 2. The ‘Dogs also won three out of their last four contests vs. Wilmington to end the regular season with victories coming on July 8, July 27 and August 5. Fayetteville took the season series 5-2 against their foes from Wrightsville Beach.
The ‘Dogs also claimed the 3-1 season series against the Petersburg Generals, including a thrilling 6-4 comeback victory at home on July 22. Fayetteville trailed by a score of 4-1 in the top of the third inning, but rallied back with five unanswered runs to hold on for the victory. This game also included a notable accomplishment as first baseman Tyler Tharp pulled off a steal of home in the bottom of the fifth to tie the ballgame at 4-4.
Fayetteville went through a hot string of games towards the conclusion of the first half of the CPL season from June 22-29. The SwampDogs won five out of six in that stretch with victories over the 2015 Petitt Cup Champion Edenton Steamers and the eventual winner of the CPL East first and second half titles, the Peninsula Pilots.
The team welcomed a speedy duo from Coastal Carolina University late in the summer with center fielder Josh Crump and second baseman Kieton Rivers. Both were members of the Chanticleer’s National Championship team this past June, the first title in the history of the CCU athletic program. Rivers and Crump showed off their wheels on the base paths as they combined for 14 stolen bases in 19 total attempts. Crump started 20 games in CF and Rivers occupied the right side of the middle infield in 21 starts.
The SwampDogs also had a couple of exciting walk-off victories on the season. The ‘Dogs walked-off in the 10th inning against the Edenton Steamers on June 16 due to a bunt single off the bat of Frankie Jezioro. On July 18, the recently acquired Josh Crump came through in the clutch as he delivered a game-winning two-out single to lift the SwampDogs over the Morehead City Marlins.
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 of North Carolina will continue in 2017. The organization is committed each and every season to making sure each Faynatic has a fun, memorable experience at the ballpark.
The Fayetteville SwampDogs would like to say thank you to each of our players and coaches for a great 2016 season! We also wish the very best of luck to all of our players as they head back to school in the fall and in their upcoming spring seasons.
We wish a heartfelt thank you to all of our wonderful Faynatics who came out to the ballpark and cheered on the SwampDogs all season long! Each and every season would not be possible without your tremendous support. Our host families continue to be the backbone of the organization by providing incredible hospitality to each of our players. We look forward to seeing everyone back at The Swamp next summer!
About the SwampDogs:
The Fayetteville SwampDogs enter their 17th season playing in the Coastal Plain League in 2017. The SwampDogs are one of the most successful franchises in the league’s history, making the Petitt Cup Playoffs eight times in the past 11 seasons, reaching the championship round three times. The SwampDogs boast over 100 alumni taken in the draft and have produced seven players who have gone on to play in Major League Baseball including slugger Mark Reynolds and David Aardsma. For more information on the Fayetteville SwampDogs, visit their team website at www.goswampdogs.com and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GoSwampDogs. Be sure to also like us on Facebook at Fayetteville SwampDogs Baseball. Where baseball is fun!
About the Coastal Plain League:
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 20th season in 2016, the CPL features 16 teams playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has had nearly 1,300 alumni drafted and 81 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com and follow us via Twitter @CPLBaseball.