Brennan Fontenot looked out at the unorthodox Wilmington defense in front of him.
With the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and the score tied at five, the Sharks had moved an outfielder in from his position to create a five-man infield. Making his first plate appearance in four days, Fontenot knew that he could win the game if he hit it through that five-man front.
With a 1-1 count, Fontenot took a changeup and slapped it back up the middle for a pinch-hit single, bringing the SwampDogs a 6-5 walk-off victory over the Wilmington Sharks on Father's Day.
"If you stay locked in to the game, good things can happen when you get opportunities," Fontenot said of his game-winning hit. "Today the best happened."
Head coach Matt Hollod's decision to send Fontenot to the plate looks perfect with the benefit of hindsight, and Hollod had every reason to be confident in his pinch hitter when he made the call.
"I spoke to [Fontenot] before the game about opportunities…so I just thought he was going to be into it, focused and wanting to do it," Hollod said. "It was a good matchup and a guy I wanted up there in that situation."
Fontenot (Spring Hill College) was one of a few heroes on the afternoon for Fayetteville, as teammates Joey Wiemer (Cincinnati) and Matt Kelly (Portland) formed a dominant two-three punch in the batting order. Wiemer had a single and a home run, driving in three for the SwampDogs, while Matt Kelly knocked in the other two with a single and two doubles.
"I think they continue to put together good at-bats," Hollod said. "They've earned every right to be in the middle of our order."
Jared Lembcke (North Greenville) provided multiple strong innings of relief for the second time this weekend, while Kyle Klotz (Belmont) bounced back from a rough outing on Saturday to earn the win, pitching a scoreless ninth and keeping the game tied heading into the bottom half of the inning.
"Pitching is one of those things where you just gotta get right back on the bike. You fall off, you get back up, you go again," Klotz said. "It was a good feeling to get this win at home."
The win marked three in a row for the SwampDogs, and the team improved to 7-6 on the season. Fayetteville travels to Morehead City Monday to play the first-place Marlins before hosting the Holly Springs Salamanders Wednesday for Disney Night at The Swamp.