Solid bullpen pitching and an opening night to remember from third baseman Mitchell Kranson lifted the Fayetteville SwampDogs to a 4-3 victory over the Morehead City Marlins.
After the first inning it looked like it would be an offensive duel, but the Dogs’ starter Ethan Striz found some rhythm and tossed six innings, allowing two runs and just one earned. He pitched four straight three up, three down innings to finish his outing and he picked up his first win of the 2013 summer season.
Third baseman Mitchell Kranson went 3-for-4 on the evening with two RBIs and a stolen base while batting out of the three-hole.
The University of California freshman got some help from Chase Rader and Kevin Kean batting ahead of him in the order as they went a combined 2-for-3 in stolen base attempts. As a team, the SwampDogs stole four total bases and were aggressive on the base paths. Expect Fayetteville to be a league leader in that category as the season progresses for the second straight season.
The SwampDogs were down 2-1 heading into the fifth inning until the top half of the order strung together three straight hits with two outs to knock Marlins starter Justin Taylor out of the game.
The bullpen was impressive as Ben Burns, Parker McDaniel and Geoff Soja combined for three innings of work, allowed four hits, and gave up just one run. Both Burns and McDaniel faced only three batters apiece in the seventh and eighth innings respectively.
The Marlins made it interesting in the ninth, however, when they were down by two runs and Justin Hoyle hit a one-out double off the wall in left field. A couple of singles later and the Marlins saw themselves down just one run with the potential winning run on first base.
Geoff Soja was able to close out the game and pick up his first save in Fayetteville and seventh this year.
The SwampDogs travel to Wilmington to take on the Sharks (1-0) before returning to the Swamp on Thursday night for a game against the Forest City Owls.
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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 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.