One night removed from a heartbreaking 3-2 extra inning loss to Wilmington, the Fayetteville SwampDogs found their bats and put on an offensive show.
“Last night was kind of a spark,” second baseman Ryan Busch said. “I think losing the ten-inning game when we got a questionable call at the end… that’s what sparked all the hits. We came out tonight really hot. Everyone in the lineup was hitting the ball well and seeing it well so it was really fun to be a part of.”
The SwampDogs took care of business in front of their home crowd to beat the Forest City Owls 11-0, which represented their first shut out of the summer season. Three games into the season and the Dogs are already on the leader board for most hits by a team in one game with 20.
Every Fayetteville batter who played nine innings had at least one hit and Brian Celsi had a great evening at the plate going 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs, two runs and a stolen base.
The SwampDogs took advantage of a hot start as they lit up Owls’ starting pitcher Lucas Cash for four runs in the first inning. As it turned out, that was all the offense they would need to spoil Forest City’s head coach David Tufo’s return to the Swamp.
Tufo spent half of the 2012 season as the temporary head coach of the SwampDogs while Darrell Handelsman was out on medical leave. When Handelsman came back for the second half of the season, Tufo returned to his duties as assistant head coach.
Cody Dix tossed four plus innings of shutout baseball and struck out seven batters. Dix’s fastball was working well all evening, but he struggled to spot his breaking balls and the 5-10, 160-pound pitcher allowed five walks and hit a batter.
Dix was the only pitcher to allow a hit on the evening and Nate Chong was the only Owl to have a good night at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Jack Van Horn reported to J.P. Riddle Stadium about five hours before game time on his birthday and he picked up his first win in 2013 because he sat out his sophomore season at Wright State. Van Horn tossed two innings and allowed just two walks and no hits.
Parker McDaniel and Geoff Soja also looked sharp out of the bullpen as they combined for three innings of work, no hits and four strikeouts.
The SwampDogs will enjoy a long road trip for round two this week against the Morehead City Marlins before returning to the Swamp on Saturday night for a fireworks night against the Wilson Tobs.
The Fayetteville SwampDogs are a member of the Coastal Plain League, the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 17th season in 2013, the CPL features 14 teams playing North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Furthermore, the CPL has had over 1,000 alumni drafted and 62 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com and follow us via Twitter @CPLBaseball.