by Jordan Lank
In a season full of peaks and valleys, the Fayetteville SwampDogs pulled something off Tuesday night that looked improbable just a short time ago: they clinched a playoff berth for the third consecutive season.
The SwampDogs defeated the Wilmington Sharks at J.P. Riddle Stadium on Tuesday for their fourth win in as many tries, 4-1. They took advantage of five Sharks errors on the evening.
Matt Vonderschmidt opened for the SwampDogs and starred, tossing 4 ⅔ innings of three-hit ball. Vonderschmidt allowed one earned run on an RBI single, his lone blemish of the night.
The right-hander out of Piedmont College did not get run support until the fourth inning, though, when the 'Dogs got on the board thanks to a Wilmington error to knot the score at one apiece.
Fayetteville knocked home three more in their half of the fifth, all with two outs. Konner Piotto reached on a throwing error — the Sharks' fourth error of the night — plating newcomer Brian Williams from second base. Brandon Talley drove home Piotto with a single to right and Carson Bartels scored Alex Kachler the same way to give the 'Dogs a three-run cushion.
Right-hander John Barr made sure that lead would not disappear, contributing 4 ⅓ innings of sterling relief en route to the win. Barr allowed just two hits, and retired the first seven Sharks he faced. Barr (6) and Vonderschmidt (7) combined for 13 SwampDogs strikeouts, continuing the strong pitching efforts from Fayetteville's staff.
The SwampDogs will travel to Morehead City on Sunday for the first round of the Pettit Cup Playoffs, where they will meet the East Division-champion Marlins. The 'Dogs will look to avenge their marathon 16-inning loss they suffered last season in the first round of the playoffs versus Morehead City, but will first have to finish the regular season with three games remaining.
Fayetteville will enjoy a day off on Wednesday before returning to action at "The Swamp" on Thursday for their final Fireworks Extravaganza game, which is also Fan Appreciation Night. Gates open at 6 PM and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05, with the fireworks display taking place shortly after 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.