One night after erasing four separate deficits in an extra-inning walk-off win, the SwampDogs could not recapture the magic Saturday.
Facing the Wilmington Sharks in an East Division matchup at home, Fayetteville fell behind early and were unable to pull off a remarkable recovery in a 5-2 loss to the Sharks.
"Guys weren't understanding situations and were swinging at bad pitches, not swinging at decent pitches," said head coach Matt Hollod after the game. "We need to be consistent…It just didn't happen tonight."
Fayetteville right-hander Michael Hendricks (Miami Ohio) turned in his second straight quality start, striking out five in seven innings of work. Hendricks held the Sharks to just one earned run on five hits but still exited the contest with his team trailing by five.
"Living in the zone was the biggest thing tonight that helped," Hendricks said. "It's definitely a confidence builder [to] see what it's like when I am doing well."
For a multiple-inning stretch late in the game, it seemed like the SwampDogs might be poised to repeat the previous night's impressive comeback. Fayetteville broke the shutout in the seventh, when Natale Monastra (Xavier) drove in Matt Kelly (Portland) with a sacrifice fly.
The SwampDogs then put up another run in the eighth on a Nick Erwin (Ohio State) RBI single, keeping the excitement alive into the ninth. But Fayetteville could not build upon a leadoff walk from Kelly, coming up short in the comeback attempt.
"We definitely had some momentum going the last couple of innings, but it just didn't go our way," Kelly said.
Starting for the second time in a SwampDogs uniform, Erwin led the team with two hits and an RBI out of the ninth spot in the batting order. Meanwhile, Kelly reached base five times in five tries despite not technically recording an at-bat, as he worked four walks and was hit by a pitch.
"Regardless of the situation, I just try to stick to the same approach and look for a ball early in the count that I know I can drive." Kelly said about his five free passes. "I just didn't get the pitches I wanted tonight so I didn't really offer at anything."
Fayetteville is just two games out of first place in the second half divisional standings and remains in second place overall. The SwampDogs are set to take on Holly Springs two nights in a row, traveling to Ting Stadium Sunday and hosting the Salamanders at The Swamp Monday.
"It was a tough one, but I'm not too worried about it," Kelly said after the game. "We're going to come back tomorrow and play well tomorrow night."