The Fayetteville SwampDogs took another leap toward the Petitt Cup Playoffs Wednesday night, with a thrilling 5-4 walkoff win over the Morehead City Marlins at J.P. Riddle Stadium.
The win marks the third time that the SwampDogs (22-26) have won in walkoff fashion this season, with the last time coming last Thursday, July 24 against the Columbia Blowfish. The win puts the SwampDogs’ winning percentage at .458, ahead of the fifth-place Wilmington Sharks’ .431 mark for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Coastal Plain League East Division.
It was Hasten Freeman (Arkansas - Fort Smith) who got the ball for the SwampDogs in this important game tonight, and he did not disappoint. After allowing two runs to the Marlins in the top half of the first inning, Freeman settled down and was terrific the rest of the way in his six inning start. The only hiccough came in the fourth inning, when an unearned run came in to score.
Marlins starter Jordan Knutson deuled with Freeman, and proved to be a worthy counterpart. Knutson kept the swampdogs off the scoreboard through the first four innings, but slipped a little in the fifth. He walked the leadoff hitter Sam Hall (Dixie State), then when Jacob Whiting (Montevallo) tried to sacrifice bunt Hall to second, the bunt was so good that Whiting reached base with a hit. David LaFleur (LSU Eunice) would sacrifice the runners to second and third, then Jason Blum (Southeast Missouri State) would continue his torrid hitting, and plate both runs with an RBI double down the left field line. The next batter, Michael Bozarth (Saint Louis), would single into centerfield to plate Blum, and tie the game at three.
With the hit tonight, Blum has now reached base safely in 40 out of the 42 games he has played in this season. The run scored was also his 42nd of the season, which leads the CPL.
The game would remain tied until the eighth inning, when SwampDog newcomer Garrett Hickman (UNC Pembroke) allowed an RBI triple to Marlins right fielder Jacob Bruce which would score Alex Torres to make it 4-3.
The ninth inning was not as kind to the Marlins, as Matt Tindall came in to try to get the save. He allowed a leadoff hit to Hall, who was promptly pinch ran for by Drew Butler (Campbell). With Whiting up to bunt, Tindall uncorked a wild pitch allowing Butler to go to second, and eventually walked Whiting. LaFleur was originally sent up to bunt, but a second wild pitch by Tindall allowed the runners to move up to second and third, which brought the Marlins infield in. LaFleur then hit a groundball to shortstop Dalton Britt, who had it skip off of his glove, allowing Butler to score the tying run, and for Whiting to move 90 feet away from home with the winning run. With Blum at the plate, a third wild pitch from Tindall scored Whiting and the SwampDogs won 5-4.
Kodi Whitley (Mount Olive, 2-0) pitched a spotless ninth inning for the SwampDogs and picked up the win, Tindall (0-2) was hung with the loss for the Marlins. These two teams face a quick turnaround, as they will square off tomorrow in Morehead City for a doubleheader consisting of two seven-inning games, starting at 6:05 pm.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. The CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 72 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum - Russell Wilson - won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at