The SwampDogs took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them Thursday Night, utilizing 16 free passes and 12 hits to tie a season-high in runs scored in a 14-5 victory over the Catawba Valley Stars.
"We were taking what was given to us. We didn't try to do too much," said Jay Hayes, who reached base safely five times. "It was a good win all around."
While the win was truly a teamwide success, Hayes (Florida Gulf Coast) and AJ Hrica (Campbell) were standout performers in the batter's box. The pair of outfielders combined to go 6-for-9 with one double, three walks, three RBIs and four runs scored.
"I was just staying back on the ball, seeing it deep, looking away [and] not trying to hunt the in-ball too much. It just worked out for me," Hrica said after the game.
The SwampDogs found a perfect balance between patience and aggression at the plate, laying off the high volume of pitches out of the strike zone and connecting on those they could hit. Ten Fayetteville batters (including mid-game substitutions) reached base on a hit or a walk, as the SwampDogs never seemed to stop circling the bases.
"We were taking our time with it, staying focused," Hrica said. "Everyone was looking at good pitches, executing correctly and just playing the game the way it's meant to be played."
The SwampDogs' pitching staff was also sharp against Catawba Valley. After an initial first-inning hiccup, starter Taylor Gibson (Northwest Florida State) settled in and allowed just one earned run in four solid innings. From there, Jimmy Reardon (Bloomsburg) and Kyle Klotz (Belmont) struck out seven and held the Stars to two hits in the game's final five frames.
"It seemed like they were having a little trouble with the fastball, so I kind of mixed things in around that," Reardon said. "I threw a couple of changeups and curveballs, and my two-seam was working pretty well tonight."
The SwampDogs continue to find themselves in the thick of the quest for the Petitt Cup, playing within a very competitive East Division.
"We're playing better baseball as of late…we're hitting it well, throwing it well," Klotz said. "I think we're moving in the right direction as we get down to playoff time."
Fayetteville is on the road Friday and closes out the week with First Responders' Night Saturday at The Swamp, which will feature the team's special edition first responder jersey auction! To place a bid, visit the team website before the game or stop by the auction tables on the concourse. The online portion of the auction will remain open until Saturday at 4 p.m., with in-person bidding continuing until the completion of that night's game.