The Fayetteville SwampDogs cruised to an 8-2 victory over the Catawba Valley Stars thanks to a phenomenal pitching performance by Ave Maria right-handed hurler Ethan Striz.
Striz tossed seven innings of one hit, shutout baseball with two strikeouts in route to his second win of the season. There were three innings in which he did not have to throw more than eight pitches to get out of the inning.
“I was just trying to throw my fastball and locate it with my two seamer and I was able to get the hitters to roll over and hit groundballs. It helped with the pitch count and allowed me to go longer in the game so it felt really good,” Striz said.
He said after the game that he would have been able to take the mound for the eighth inning, but he got to soak in the victory and watch his team close out the game.
First baseman Ryan Nagle got the run production started in the second inning with a two-out single to right field and Jacob Spring singled him over to third base a few pitches later. Catcher Chad Whitehead drove in his first RBI of the season in his debut for the SwampDogs to give Fayetteville the 1-0 lead.
“We’ve been losing lately and we just wanted to come out strong and that’s what we did,” Nagle said. “After getting a lot more at-bats, I’ve been staying with my approach, looking opposite field and I’ve just been seeing the ball well lately.”
Nagle finished the evening batting 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double, stolen base and a walk.
In the next inning, Chase Rader lined a single up the middle and stole second base on the very next pitch. Brian Celsi drove in the second run of the ball game to give Striz a 2-0 cushion on the mound.
Striz did his job of getting his team’s hot bats back to the plate as they struck for four runs in the fourth. The birthday boy himself, Celsi, roped a bases clearing double that tucked inches inside the foul line down the left field line. He finished the night batting .500 with four RBIs.
“Obviously we’re a good hitting club and we know it so that will give us some momentum going into tomorrow,” Striz said.
Denton Sagerman made his first official appearance for the Dogs out of the bullpen and he had to work his way through a difficult eighth inning. Sagerman struggled to locate his pitches early and he allowed two runs on three walks and three wild pitches. The Olmstead Falls, Ohio native did not pitch to start the 2013 Coastal Plain League season because he was recovering from an injury he suffered at the University of Dayton.
The SwampDogs stole some momentum back with a timely win at home. The bats stung the Stars for ten hits and eight runs while the pitching staff combined for a one-hitter.
Fayetteville will take on the Martinsville Mustangs at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday to round out the four game home stand.
The Coastal Plain League is 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 63 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.