by Jordan Lank
The Fayetteville SwampDogs tallied 15 hits en route to a regular season-opening victory Wednesday night, defeating the Wilmington Sharks on the road 7-2.
The story of the game was Jonathan Cole, who carried his collegiate success at Franklin & Marshall this season into his start for the 'Dogs Wednesday night. The righty, who posted a 1.02 ERA this year at F&M, was sterling against the Sharks, pitching seven strong innings en route to his first Coastal Plain League victory. The majority of Cole's six strikeouts came during a stretch in which the junior retired nine straight Sharks, striking out five in that span.
Offensively, the SwampDogs got things going early after center fielder Cameron Phelts was hit by the first pitch of the ballgame and came around to score on a groundout by first baseman Brandon Talley.
The Sharks responded with two of their own in the first due to a SwampDogs throwing error. But, Fayetteville punched back with two more in the top of the second, and never looked back. From the second inning forward, the SwampDogs scored six unanswered to claim victory.
Phelts had a night to remember when it was all said and done, collecting three singles and three runs scored. Kachler mashed the SwampDogs' first home run of 2019 in the top of the ninth as added insurance for Max Steele, who pitched two scoreless frames to seal the deal.
The SwampDogs return home on Friday night for their first Fireworks Extravaganza. First pitch against the Peninsula Pilots is scheduled for 7:05 PM with the fireworks show immediately following the conclusion of the game.
The Fayetteville SwampDogs are members of the The Coastal Plain League and are in their 19th Summer of fun. The Coastal Plain League is the nation's premier summer collegiate baseball league. Heading into its 23rd season in 2019, the CPL features 16 franchises playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. To date, the CPL has had over 1,450 alumni drafted and 122 alums – including 2017 ALCS MVP, 2017 World Series champion, 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, as well as 2017 NLCS MVP Chris Taylor – make their Major League debut. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @CPLBaseball.
Image credit: Wilmington Sharks