In the BlueClaws biggest game of the season Saturday night, Jonathan Pettibone rose to the occasion.
The 20-year-old righty carried a no-hitter into the sixth, and struck out a career high nine as the BlueClaws beat Hickory 6-0 to lock up a spot in the SAL Championship Series for the second year in a row.
Pettibone (1-0) let up just one hit through seven innings. The lone single came with two outs in the sixth, as Travis Adair blooped a ball out to left-center.
This was the first time in franchise history Lakewood faced elimination in the postseason, but the Claws wasted no time getting on the board.
Lakewood jumped on Hickory starter Jacob Brigham (0-1) early. With two outs and Michael Dabbs on first, Sebastian Valle launched a ball out to left to put the Claws on the board. It was Valle's second hit and long ball of the postseason.
Leandro Castro followed up the homer with a single to right, stole second, and went to third on an errant throw by catcher Zach Zaneski. Jeremy Barnes then singled Castro in to push the lead to 3-0.
In the fourth, Brian Gump walked, stole second, and scored on an Alan Schoenberger base hit for a 4-0 edge.
The Claws tacked on two more insurance runs in the seventh. Keoni Ruth reached on an error by third baseman Matt West, and Schoenberger lined an RBI double down the third baseline. One out later Michael Dabbs hit a sac-fly to make it a 6-0 game.
Luke Wertz threw the last two innings to wrap up the shutout. Lakewood outscored Hickory 14-2 in the series, and while the Crawdads managed just two hits in Game Three, they committed five errors.
The SAL Championship Series starts Monday at 7:05 pm in Greenville, SC as the BlueClaws take on the Drive for the second year in a row with the title on the line.