FAYETTEVILLE — Longtime Robeson County Baseball coach Bryan McDonald had a dilemma on Wednesday night at J.P. Riddle Stadium as he had ties to both the Lexington County Blowfish and the Fayetteville SwampDogs in the Coastal Plain League matchup.
On the Blowfish’s side, McDonald’s son, Marshall McDonald, was early in his first season coaching the collegiate summer league team, and for Fayetteville, a former player of his at Purnell Swett, Matthias Carter, was starting at second base. When the schedule came out, Bryan marked circled the game, and knew he would be in attendance.
Before the game as he met with his son and former player on the field, Bryan had a plan of what he wanted to see.
“I told Matthias and his dad that, ‘I want you to go 3-for-4 and I want the Blowfish to win,’” he said with a laugh. “And he’s played well all night.”
Bryan got one of the two as Lexington County won 12-10, but Carter came up short of the mark going 1-for-2 with three walks and two runs scored.
Along with the pregame talk that included Bryan’s vision for the game, there was much more than baseball.
“That was awesome. There’s nothing like seeing your dad on the field,” Marshall said. “He doesn’t get to come much because I’m always all over, but when he does come it’s something special.”
Before the season, Marshall told the team’s general manager that two trips to Fayetteville was a must to be back in the area he grew up as a multi-sport athlete at Red Springs.
Now following in his father’s footsteps and climbing up the coaching ladder from Catawba Valley Community College to Presbyterian, Bryan can see bits of his younger self in Marshall.
“He’s worked hard to get to the point he is right now,” Bryan said. “I plan on spending a lot of time watching him as he continues his coaching career. … It was good to see him and talk a little about everything, including baseball.”
Growing up at the field, Marshall knew of and watch Carter grow during his time at Purnell Swett. Now two years later, Marshall continues to see the development as he faced across the diamond at one of his father’s former players.
“That kid has gotten a lot better,” Marshall said. “He is unbelievable, and handles the bat well against some top quality arms. He’s going to be a heckuva player one day.”
The reunion with the McDonalds was a pleasant sight for Carter in his first season in Fayetteville.
“We just caught up like old friends and I asked him how he was doing. We were just catching up and how his son was coaching the team,” Carter said of meeting with his former coach. “I call Coach (Marshall) McDonald a friend, and it was like playing with your friend your whole life, and then playing against him when you get to a higher level.”
At Purnell Swett, Carter was a three-year starter and was an all-conference and all-county standout shortstop. Now at Methodist, his former coach sees he is keeping the same level of play.
“He’s had two great years at Methodist and he’s playing with some of the best players in the country, and going with them toe-to-toe,” he said. “He’s been all-conference his first two years and I predict he will be all-conference all four years.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.