Brett Young was hungry.
The SwampDogs' leadoff hitter had not reached base in his first four trips to the plate. The right fielder and prospective Coastal Plain League All-Star was frustrated, but he knew he had a chance to erase the past and move forward.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Young had the opportunity to win the game with a base hit. After falling behind in the count, he faced an uphill battle against a reliever off of whom the SwampDogs had only managed two hits in five innings.
But Brett Young was hungry.
Facing a 1-2 count, Young saw a breaking ball come in and laced it down the left field line, driving in the game-winning run and delivering a 4-3 victory over the Holly Springs Salamanders.
"A big spot came up, and I told myself just to lock in and refocus," Young (Delta State) said after the game. "I just had a feeling he was going to come with that front-door slider again. He just left it up and over, gave me a cookie."
So Young was hungry for food, too.
His base hit could hardly have been more dramatic. After ceding a one-run lead in the top of the ninth, one more strike to Young would have sent the game to extra innings. Even after he struggled in his first four at-bats, his teammates never doubted him.
"[Brett's] year has been unbelievable," said Logan Jarvis (Belmont), who drove in two runs and scored a third to go with a single and a double. "You just have a good feeling the whole time we're up there. That's the kind of lineup we have right now.
The SwampDogs complemented their clutch hitting with a very solid performance on the mound. From starter Jakob Ryan (Barton) to the night's winning pitcher Austin Goff (Middle Georgia State), four different players toed the rubber for Fayetteville Friday night, and the four-man staff combined for 10 strikeouts and just one earned run.
"We're rolling right now. It's really good for us," Young said about the team's success in the past week. "We're playing our best ball so far."
The victory boosts the SwampDogs record to 13-11, leaving them firmly in second place with one game to go in the first half. Fayetteville will travel to Morehead City Saturday night and begin the second half with a Monday road trip against the Wilmington Sharks.
"This game is about consistency, so we try to just keep doing what we're doing," Jarvis said. "We want to be playing this kind of ball at the right time."