The dog days of summer are upon us.

Sure, that’s usually more of a reference to August, but we’re not talking about the heat. We’re talking about the best baseball around — the Fayetteville SwampDogs. Back in action for their 11th season, the SwampDogs are once again poised for a run at the Petitt Cup Championship in the Coastal Plain League. It’s the All-Star Summer of Fun as the SwampDogs will host the CPL All-Star Game on July 17-18, and there’s no better way to spend a summer evening than taking in the best baseball the Cape Fear region has to offer.06-22-11-swamdogs.jpg

Infielder Eric Grabe is back for his third season with the club, and has brought with him teammates from the University of Tampa. Junior, Cody Davis, has already made his impact felt both at the plate and on the mound, serving as the team’s centerfi elder and closer. Shawn Pleffner has provided a power bat in the middle of the SwampDogs order, while other upperclassmen like Danny Gesick of Shawnee State, Dillon Checkal of San Diego, and Joe Vaskas of Emporia State have all delivered on different nights to keep the dynamic offense balanced.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the SwampDogs early success has been the quality and depth of the pitching staff. Starters Dom Macaluso and Brandon Browne lead a rotation that has limited opposing offenses, ensuring the offense plenty of opportunities to score, while the bullpen has been arguably the best in the CPL. Headlined by Cory Kent, Michael Anarumo, Derek Brooks and Davis, the relief corps earned six wins and fi ve saves in the opening week, pacing Fayetteville to the early division lead.

The SwampDogs will host three home games this week, starting Thursday night against the Peninsula Pilots. The first 500 fans into the ballpark will receive a stein courtesy of Miller Lite and Healy WholeSale. We’ll also salute HGTV, as fans can find people to answer all of their home improvement needs.

On Friday, the SwampDogs continue their rivalry with the Florence Redwolves on Military Appreciation Night. The SwampDogs honor the military every night, but this night will be extra special! The first 500 fans will also receive a visor courtesy of Rick Hendrick Toyota. The 24th is also Dog Day at “The Swamp,” where fans can bring their dog to the ballpark and enjoy the game.

The week’s final home game will be Monday, June 27, as the SwampDogs play host to the Columbia Blowfi sh on Trunk-or-Treat Night! Come celebrate the biggest, safest, and best community event in October even earlier by dressing in costume and participating in a costume contest.

Despite twice having the league’s best record, head coach Darrel Handelsman says this might be the best team he’s had in seven seasons at “The Swamp.” So don’t miss your chance to catch the SwampDogs in action at J.P. Riddle Stadium — the best kind of “dog days” this All Star Summer of Fun has to offer.

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