LAKEWOOD 1, KANNAPOLIS 0: Spencer Howard closed out the best-of-three South Atlantic League Northern Division Series with a no-hitter, completing a sweep of the Intimidators and sending the BlueClaws to their fifth league championship series.
Howard (W, 1-0), a second-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2017, struck out nine and allowed just a single walk as the righthander mowed through the Kannapolis lineup.
The Intimidators did load the bases in the third inning as a result of Howard's lone walk, a wild pitch, and two fielding errors. However, they did so with two outs already on the board, and the BlueClaws escaped the jam when Howard got Kannapolis' Steele Walker to line out to 1B Jake Scheiner in foul territory.
CF Simon Muzziotti drove in the winning run in the sixth with a line drive single to right, allowing 3B Jose Antequera to score from second.
The BlueClaws will head to Kentucky to face Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League Championship Series with Game 1 scheduled for Monday at 7:05 p.m.
The Legends also completed a sweep, closing out the Southern Division Series against the Rome Braves with a 6-0 shutout in their Game 2 Friday night.
LEHIGH VALLEY 3, SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE 2 (13 INN.): The IronPigs live to fight at least one more day.
Down 2-0 in the best-of-five International League Division Series, Lehigh Valley went to extras against the RailRiders and C Nick Rickles came up with a walk-off single in the 13th inning to keep the IronPigs' season alive.
LF Danny Ortiz doubled to lead-off the 13th, and after Scranton Wilkes-Barre pitcher Brady Lail opted to intentionally walk RF Joey Meneses, advanced to third on DH Ryan Goins' sacrifice bunt. So with one out, all Rickles had to do was put the ball in play.
RH Drew Anderson pitched 5 2/3 innings, striking out three and allowing two earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He surrendered a solo home run to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre SS Rey Navarro in the fifth, and the RailRiders took a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth when Navarro struck again with a two-out RBI double after Anderson was pulled for LH Tom Windle.
CF Collin Cowgill answered in the bottom frame with a game-tying two-run shot. The IronPigs' bullpen took over from there, holding the RailRiders scoreless until Rickles knocked in the deciding run.
Now trailing in the series, 2-1, the threat of elimination still remains. But with benefit of having any remaining games at home, the IronPigs will look to even the series with Game 4 Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at Coca-Cola Park and force a decisive Game 5.