LAKEWOOD, NJ - In game two of the 2018 SAL Northern Division Championship Series, Lakewood's Spencer Howard tossed a 103-pitch no-hitter against the Intimidators, helping the BlueClaws advance to the championship series against the Lexington Legends with a 1-0 win Friday night in Lakewood, New Jersey.
The Intimidators had their first and only chance to score come in the third inning, as Michael Hickman reached on a fielding error by first baseman Jake Scheiner to lead off the frame. Next up, Johan Cruz grounded into a fielder's choice at third base, followed by a Ramon Beltre strikeout, bringing Tyler Frost back to the plate for the second time with two outs. After the fifth pitch of the at-bat missed high to Frost, putting runners at first and second, Luis Curbelo reached on an error by shortstop Nick Maton, creating a bases loaded scenario for Steele Walker. After fouling off three straight pitches, Walker smacked a ball on a line to Scheiner at first, ending the Kannapolis threat in the third.
Although the night belonged to Howard, Parker Rigler pitched well for Kannapolis, allowing only one run on three hits while fanning four Lakewood batters. Jose Nin got the call out of the bullpen from Justin Jirschele, as Nin tossed 2.1 innings of two-hit ball.
Finishing the night with nine strikeouts, Howard sat down the last 11 Kannapolis' batters, capping off a brilliant night on the mound for the 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher out of Templeton, California.
With the win, the BlueClaws advance to the 2018 SAL Championship Series with the Lexington Legends, as both Lakewood and Lexington finished the season with the best records in the Northern and Southern divisions.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.