The Charlotte Knights wrapped up the IL South Division crown, getting six strong innings from Matt Zaleski in a 2-1 triumph over Pawtucket.
Charlotte, which boasts a 3.16 ERA, set up a first-round playoff matchup with Indianapolis, which has an IL-best 3.15 mark and secured the West Division title on Thursday.
"All year long, these starters set the tone for the night and the bullpen has come in, and these guys are taking advantage of the opportunities they get," Knights manager Joel Skinner said. "It's contagious. They feed off each other and they've done it all year."
Charlotte has had its share of comings and goings this season, with 20 different pitchers making starts for the Knights. Zaleski (6-5) lowered his ERA to 3.77 after limiting the Red Sox to one run on two hits and striking out five.
Charlie Leesman (12-9, 2.46), Charlie Shirek (11-4, 3.74) and Dylan Axelrod (7-5, 2.88) also have shouldered much of the load.
Offensively, Skinner's team has relied on timely hitting and some productive bats. Dan Johnson leads the IL with 27 homers and ranks second with 80 RBIs, while Jordan Danks batted .317 in 64 games.
White Sox No. 16 prospect Jared Mitchell, who joined the team late last month, has a homer and 11 RBIs in 28 games. He went 2-for-4 in the clincher and said one of the team's strengths is its ability to stay focused and relaxed.
"[This team] is real loosey-goosey," Mitchell said. "They do the work they need to do to prepare themselves, but everybody also has a good time. Everybody seems to get along and it's that chemistry that's the biggest ingredient for a championship team."
Jose Lopez drove in both runs against Pawtucket and relievers Leyson Septimo, Daniel Moskos and Jhan Marinez combined for three two-hit innings to shut the door.
Charlotte, which had not reached the playoffs since 2006, begins its five-game semifinal series on Sept. in Indianapolis.