HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – The Holly Springs Salamanders looked to begin the second half of their Coastal Plain League (CPL) schedule on a positive note when they faced the Fayetteville SwampDogs at the North Main Athletic Complex on Tuesday.
The Salamanders got the result they were looking for, a 5-1 win, thanks to an impressive outing by starting pitcher Chandler Sanburn.
However, it took a little while to get things going as a nearly two-hour rain delay kept both teams and 898 in attendance waiting until 8:45 p.m. to start the game that was originally scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.
It was the fourth matchup between the two teams with Fayetteville (12-16) holding a 3-1 advantage in the season series.
The Salamanders (13-16) looked to end a losing streak that extended to three games when they dropped a 4-3 decision at Asheboro on Monday.
With that loss, Holly Springs finished the first half of its inaugural season in the CPL in fifth place with a 12-16 record.
“First half I thought we played well,” Salamanders coach Andrew Ciencin said.
“We need to work on our bullpen. That’s our one downfall right now. I think in the last week now, we’ve given up three, four leads. That just can’t happen in baseball. Even if you’re gonna’ come in and give up one or two, it needs to stay there. We can’t allow big innings. I think our guys know that.”
Sanburn, a rising sophomore at Wichita State, earned his first win of the season, throwing 8 2/3 innings with one run and four hits against to go along with seven strikeouts.
Collin Woody came in to get the final out for Holly Springs, while Fayetteville starter Aaron Lesiak (1-2, 4 1/3 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 3 SO) took the loss.
As one of the league’s top batters, Brian Miller, a rising sophomore at UNC and a Millbrook High School product, led the Salamanders offense, hitting 3-for-4 on the night, scoring two runs along with an RBI, while Joey Roach (2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI), Logan Porter (2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI), and Drew Butler (2-4, 1 RBI) all finished with productive nights as well.
Sanburn got off on the right foot when he struck out his first batter.
“I was just tryin’ to compete, tryin’ to keep them just hittin’ the ball,” Sanburn said.
“I had my defense out there makin’ plays for me. I was just competin’, tryin’ to stay in the zone. Off-speed was workin’ and they were chasin’ that. I was just workin’ to keep ‘em swingin’.”
Holly Springs’ bats went to work and scored runs in each of the second, third and fifth innings to give the six-foot-two-inch starter a 3-0 lead to work with through five innings.
Jimmy Faul, a junior at Louisville, finally broke Sanburn’s shutout in the top of the sixth with a towering home run that carried the fence over right field, almost making it to the sidewalk along Main Street.
“It got away from me,” Sanburn said.
“My plant foot slid a little bit, I came down on my heel; my heel gave out a little bit, so I ended up throwin’ it right there for him. It was a good hit.”
That would be the only blemish on the right-hander’s night as the Salamanders added insurance runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings to complete the win.
Sanburn made it through to the the top of the ninth, getting the first two outs, a strikeout and a pop-up, before Woody came in to close the game out.
“Starting pitching has been awesome for us,” Ciencin said.
“Obviously, you saw that tonight with Chandler – unbelievable job by him.”