Matt Kelly was just waiting for his pitch.
With the game tied at 12 and a runner on third, the SwampDogs' second baseman knew that a base hit would send his team home victorious, but he also knew that the opposing pitcher would not make it easy on him.
After fouling off six pitches, Kelly finally got the offering he wanted and lined it into right field, delivering the SwampDogs a 13-12 walk-off win in the 11th inning over the Wilson Tobs Friday night.
"Our guys kept fighting," said head coach Matt Hollod. "It was a huge win for us when things hadn't really been going our way."
The SwampDogs shook off the memories of multiple close losses in the second half's first week, battling back from four different deficits to prevail in the second inning of extra play.
In addition to the game-winning hit from Kelly (Portland), Fayetteville saw important contributions throughout the lineup, as every SwampDog either drove in a run or recorded more than one hit. Nick Erwin (Ohio State) drove in a pair of runs in his Coastal Plain League debut, while Natale Monastra (Xavier) went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
"I just tried to get everything set up earlier so I could be on time," Monastra said of his success in the batter's box. "I just wanted to come through for my team and I guess I did."
On a day that saw the Wilmington Sharks and Holly Springs Salamanders both lose, the well-earned victory brought the SwampDogs to within one game of first place. Fayetteville has a chance to move into a tie for first when they host Wilmington Saturday night.
"It feels great," Monastra said. "We've been dropping a few games lately, and we need to get on track for the second half."