Terry Doyle matched a career high with 14 strikeouts over seven innings on Friday night but suffered the loss as the Kannapolis Intimidators were blanked by the West Virginia Power, 2-0.
It was Doyle's second straight start with double-digit strikeouts.
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed one run on four hits and did not walk a batter. He faced 25 hitters, striking out the side in the first and sixth innings and failing to record a strikeout in just one frame.
"I had my best curveball of the season," Doyle said. "I don't really think about strikeouts ahead of time, I'm just trying to get ahead of hitters. I'd be happy to get a ground ball early in the count, but once there are two strikes, I try to put them away."
After West Virginia's Rogelios Noris led off the fourth inning with his third homer of the year, Doyle allowed just one runner to reach third base. But the former 37th-round pick out of Boston College got no support from his offense. The Intimidators collected seven singles and a walk but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Doyle fell to 3-2, despite boasting a 1.14 ERA that ranks third in the South Atlantic League. His other defeat was a 1-0 loss to Rome on April 9.
The 14 strikeouts matched the career high he set last July 3 as a member of the Rookie-level Great Falls Voyagers. He finished second in the Pioneer League last season with 75 strikeouts over 57 1/3 frames.
Friday's outing moved Doyle into the South Atlantic League lead with 48 strikeouts over 40 innings. He has allowed 29 hits and 11 walks.
West Virginia's pitching had a lot to do with Doyle's lack of run support. Kyle McPherson (3-2) gave up four hits over seven frames, striking out a season-high nine without issuing a walk. Maurice Bankston scattered three hits and a walk over the final two frames to record his first save of the season. He fanned three.
The loss spoiled an opportunity for Kannapolis (14-15), which started the season 0-6, to go over the .500 mark for the first time this year.