KANNAPOLIS, NC - Dalton Guthrie scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the ninth inning and Zach Warren slammed the door to give the BlueClaws a 4-2 win at Kannapolis in Game One of the South Atlantic League Northern Division Championship Series on Wednesday.
Lakewood returns home on Friday night with a chance to sweep the Intimidators in the best-of-three series and advance to their fifth SAL Championship Series.
Madison Stokes started the ninth inning with a double before Guthrie came in as a pinch runner. Colby Fitch followed with a single. That moved Guthrie to third and Fitch to second on the throw home. With Jose Antequera batting, a Will Kincanon wild pitch scored Guthrie. Antequera followed with an RBI single to put the BlueClaws up 4-2.
Zach Warren came on in the ninth and struck out all three hitters he faced to slam the door. Warren has struck out 49 of the last 76 hitters he's faced.
Jake Elliott (0-1) was charged with both runs in the ninth and suffered the loss.
James McArthur (1-0) threw two scoreless innings to earn the win in relief. He was aided by left fielder Matt Vierling, who threw Tate Blackman out at home plate to end the eighth and preserve the 2-2 tie.
Trailing 2-0, the BlueClaws tied the game with two runs in the fourth. Rodolfo Duran led off the inning with a home run after he led the team with 18 in the regular season. Jhailyn Ortiz followed with a double and he was tripled home by Nick Maton to tie the score.
Kannapolis took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles from Tate Blackman and Carlos Perez off Andrew Brown.
Those runs, however, would be the only two allowed by the right-hander. The 20-year old gave up two runs over six innings while striking out four.
Intimidators starter Zach Lewis gave up two runs over six innings while striking out eight. He did not factor in the decision.
The BlueClaws are now 19-7 all-time in the playoffs including 9-1 in the opening round.
Game Two of the series is Friday night at FirstEnergy Park. RHP Spencer Howard (9-8) starts for the BlueClaws opposite LHP Parker Rigler (6-9). Tickets are available by calling 732-901-7000 option 2 or online at BlueClaws.com.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.