By Jordan Lank
The Fayetteville SwampDogs were halted offensively Friday night, dropping a divisional battle with the Wilmington Sharks, 8-1.
The SwampDogs opened the scoring — as they did in Holly Springs on Thursday — when Ben Norman knocked an RBI single over the head of Wilmington shortstop James Parker.
The Sharks quickly struck back with three runs in their half of the fifth, thanks to a pair of run-scoring singles. Wilmington, who only manufactured four run-scoring plays all night, scored five runs in the seventh. The inning was capped by a grand slam.
Pearce Howard continued his active on-base streak despite not registering a base hit. Howard was hit by a pitch in the eighth to make it fourteen consecutive games in which he has reached base safely.
Fayetteville pushed across just one run for the second consecutive night, collecting six hits in the losing effort. Three of the 'Dogs hits came in the ninth inning.
Joe Graziano pitched wonderfully through the first four innings in Wilmington, allowing zero runs on one hit. He was ousted in the fifth when the Sharks scored their first three runs. Graziano allowed three runs on four hits, while striking out four and walking two.
Brandon Talley pitched for the SwampDogs in relief, striking out four of the five Sharks he faced on the hill in 1 ⅓ innings of work.
The SwampDogs return home to "The Swamp" for 90's Night on Saturday against the Wilson Tobs. Tom Guiry, who played Scotty Smalls in "The Sandlot," will be in attendance. The first 500 fans will receive SwampDogs fanny packs, and one will contain the Golden Ticket, good for a game of catch with a SwampDogs player and Tom Guiry himself. Gates open at 6 PM and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
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.