As the season winds down with a playoff spot still up for grabs in the East Division, every game down the stretch is urgent for the SwampDogs.
Fayetteville played with the perfect amount of focus Wednesday night in Asheboro, hanging tough throughout the game before exploding in the eighth inning to claim a 6-4 comeback victory over the Copperheads.
"With the tight division race, we need to grind out every game and produce as many wins as possible," said catcher Natale Monastra after the game. "We just need to trust that we can rely on one another and that a game is never over, no matter the score."
Monastra (Xavier) was dialed in even before the rest of the lineup got going, reaching base safely in his first three plate appearances and finishing the night 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk. Trailing by two entering the eighth inning, the SwampDogs used doubles from Willis McDaniel (Florida A&M) and Matt Kelly (Portland), singles from AJ Hrica (Campbell) and Joey Wiemer (Cincinnati) and productive at-bats from Trent Franson (Houston Baptist) and Tanner Piechnick (Ohio) to flip the deficit into a two-run lead.
"I was really trying to stay relaxed and trust my hands today," Monastra said. "We had to trust that our offense would eventually come alive."
As the Fayetteville bats looked sharper as the game went on, the SwampDogs' bullpen looked ready early. Fayetteville saw four relievers toss six shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out eight. Logan Carter (Middle Georgia State) fanned two Copperheads in the ninth to earn the save for the SwampDogs.
"It feels great to be able to come in in that situation and close the game out and get my first save of the year," Carter said. "Hopefully we can take tonight's win and build off of it and make a run to get a spot in the playoffs."
The SwampDogs are on the road Thursday for an important doubleheader with Wilmington before coming back to The Swamp Friday to celebrate Summertime St Patty's Day with a matchup against the Florence RedWolves.