The Fayetteville SwampDogs fell to the Peninsula Pilots 8-7 Tuesday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Things got started quickly in the first inning as SwampDogs leadoff batter Jason Blum (Southeast Missouri State) was hit by a pitch on the leg to lead off the game. Michael Bozarth (Saint Louis) followed that up with an infield single and then David Palenzuela (Miami Dade) reached on an error to load the bases with nobody out.
Norm Donkin (Delaware) lined the first pitch from Blair Betts into centerfield to score Blum and Bozarth to put the SwampDogs up 2-0. Three batters later Brandon Metoyer (Menlo) drove home Palenzuela with a sacrifice fly.
Peninsula would strike back in the bottom of the second inning against Seth Laigast (New Orleans). Laigast would walk leadoff batter and 2014 CPL Home Run Derby champion Alex Close then he would advance to second on a wild pitch. After a Kyle Johnson groundout and a flyout from Brandon Stephens, Jason McMurray was walked and there were runners on the corners with Andres Nelo at the plate.
McMurray took off toward second base and when Jacob Whiting’s (Montevallo) throw was late to second, Close broke for the plate and was able to score when Blum’s return throw to the plate skipped away from Whiting and McMurray reached third, and the score was 3-2 Dogs.
The SwampDogs expanded the lead in the top of the third inning, when they would get a bloop and a blast courtesy of a single from Donkin and a homerun from Chase Edwards (Mount Olive) to get out 5-2.
The Pilots would not rest for long, as in the bottom of the third, they would get back-to-back one out hits from Will Shepherd and Taylor Ostrich to put runners on first and third. P.J. Higgins drove home Shepherd with a sacrifice fly to left field. Close was up next and hit a high popup that Whiting was unable to make a play on as the rain was coming down. The next batter, Johnson, rocketed a three-run homer out to left to put the Pilots up 6-5.
The Pilots would add an insurance run in the fifth inning against Ryan Stinar (Albany) when Shepherd led off with a double, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and came into score later in the inning on another wild pitch.
With one out in the inning, Higgins singled to left field and advanced to second when the return throw from the outfield skipped away. Two batters later Johnson was at the plate and hit a tough ball to shortstop which he beat out for an infield single, but Higgins tried to score all the way from second. An alert throw to the plate from Palenzela got there in time to nab Higgins and end the inning with the score 7-5 Pilots.
The Dogs would come back to even things up in the seventh inning, when Alex Harris (Dayton) led off with a double against Wes McGuire. After a balk would advance Harris to third, the next batter, Blum, would be called out on a check swing strike three called by base umpire Dave Hlavac.
The next batter, Bozarth would walk, and McGuire was removed from the game in favor of Austin Heenan. Before the 1-0 pitch to Heenan’s first batter, Palenzuela, he tried a pickoff at first and caught Bozarth going on first motion. Rather than throw to second to get Bozarth out, Ostrich threw to third to try and pick Harris off third. The ball skipped away and went out of play allowing Harris to score from third, but then Bozarth was allowed to come in and score on the play by Hlavac as well tying the score up at 7.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Pilots would retake the lead, after Close reached leading off the inning on an error by Metoyer. Johnson then sacrificed him to second base, then Stephens was struck out by Stinar. McMurray scorched a line drive to third base which glanced off the glove of Metoyer and ricocheted into left field allowing Close to score and make it 8-7 Pilots.
The SwampDogs would mount a comeback against Peninsula closer Thomas Busbice in the ninth, as Blum led off by being hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Busbice was able to roll a double play ball off the bat of Bozarth to eliminate the runner, and get the Dogs down to their final out.
Palenzuela would single to the opposite field to give the Dogs a two-out baserunner, but Donkin would fly out to center field to end the game.
Heenan (3-0) was the winning pitcher while Stinar (0-2) go the loss for the SwampDogs. Busbice’s save was his seventh on the season.
The Dogs are right back at it tomorrow as they hit the road to face the Morehead City Marlins before returning home Thursday to face the Edenton Steamers.
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 70 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