As the first half of the season winds down, games take on a dual importance.
Not only does every matchup count toward the year-end standings, but each one offers an opportunity to experiment and look for a winning formula to apply in the second half.
The SwampDogs found a winning formula Thursday night, riding a terrific start from DJ Moore and giving him plenty of help at the plate to beat the Sharks for the second time in two days, 8-3.
"Today I just felt really comfortable out there," Moore said after the game. "We're playing well. We're swinging the bats well [and the] pitching has been great the last couple of games."
Moore (Huntington) was lights out in his first start of the summer, cruising through six shutout innings and allowing just five runners to reach base. The right-hander displayed impressive command of all three of his pitches, striking out seven and earning the win.
"[Moore's] got a little life to his fastball… and he has a good curveball and [changeup to go] with it. He can be a good pitcher in this league," said head coach Matt Hollod. "Whenever you can throw multiple pitches for strikes, it's just very difficult on the other team."
The SwampDogs once again took pressure off the pitching staff by producing offensively, and the eight-run output brings Fayetteville's total to 25 during its three-game win streak. The trio of Logan Jarvis (Belmont), Tanner Piechnick (Ohio) and Trevor Hafner (Ohio) led the way, combining for six hits and three RBIs.
"I think guys are starting to just get locked in and feed off each other's at-bats," said Hafner, who drove in a run and scored twice while going 2-for-3. "It seems like we're starting to get to some bullpens earlier in the game, which is good."
Fayetteville improved to 12-11 with the win, climbing above .500 for the second time this season and increasing the gap between second and third place in the East Division. The SwampDogs play at home again tomorrow, hosting the Holly Springs Salamanders for Scout Night at The Swamp.
Just like the past few games, Friday's matchup will be an opportunity to learn and plan for the rest of the season. The SwampDogs definitely learned something about DJ Moore on Thursday.
"The hitting will pick up in this league in the second half. That's why pitching becomes so valuable and so important," Hollod said. "We're trying to find what five guys we're going to go with as quality starting options."