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SwampDogs Split Doubleheader in Wilson

In baseball, going 1-for-2 would be a good day at the plate. That's exactly what the SwampDogs did during Sunday's doubleheader with the Wilson Tobs.

Fayetteville and Wilson played both games close, with the SwampDogs taking the first game 6-5 before dropping the second 7-5. Each game was just seven innings, as opposed to the usual nine, per the Coastal Plain League rules regarding doubleheaders.

The SwampDogs' 11 runs on the day represented another solid scoring output, and there were several important contributions in the batter's box. Fayetteville had one player record multiple hits and RBIs each game in Tyler Shuck (Florida Gulf Coast) and Brett Young (Delta State) during games one and two, respectively.

"The last few games, I've started to put guys in the lineup that can run," said head coach Matt Hollod about the team's success at the plate. "Some of those guys that are in the middle of our order, we need to get going… I know it's gonna come, so it's nice to see [them] start to hit the ball a little bit."

While the SwampDogs produced at the plate, Fayetteville had several pitchers step up as well. Game one saw Michael Hendricks (Miami Ohio) earn the win for five innings of two run baseball, while Jared Lembcke (North Greenville) proved clutch out of the bullpen. Taking the mound with a one-run lead and a runner on first with just one out in the sixth inning, an unfazed Lembcke retired five straight Tobs to close out the game and earn the save.

"He's been good for a while now. I think he really had one bad outing this year," Hollod said about Lembcke's appearance. "Take that outing away, and he's been exceptional… He came up big for us tonight."

Even though the SwampDogs did not win game two, Hollod said he was again encouraged by the bullpen's performance.

"The positive of the second game for me was to see [Josh] Avila (Cumberlands) come in and throw really, really well," Hollod said. "He's a guy that I plan on putting in the back end of the bullpen. He throws three pitches for strikes, so I think he can be very effective."

Avila struck out the side in a scoreless sixth inning, keeping the game close for a potential comeback in the final frame. Making his 2018 debut with the SwampDogs, Avila was focused on attacking hitters by pounding the strike zone, he said.

"You always gotta have confidence being a pitcher. But it definitely boosts your confidence when you go out there and have a shutout inning," Avila said. "It gets you pumped up for your next outing." 

The SwampDogs have a day off Monday before traveling to Holly Springs for a Tuesday night matchup with the Salamanders. Fayetteville's next home game is against the Wilmington Sharks on Thursday.

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