Robbie Ross only allowed a leadoff single, retiring the next 23 batters in order, as Hickory defeated Charleston, 8-0, on Tuesday.
The Rangers' second-round pick in the 2008 Draft allowed four balls out of the infield for the first-place Crawdads (33-20). Hector Nelo allowed a hit in the final frame to seal the shutout.
"I just try to throw strikes and, if I get a ground ball I'm not worried because of the defense," Ross said. "I knew if (Charleston) hit a ground ball or fly ball (the defense was) getting it. (Third baseman) Matt West made some unbelievable plays. It wouldn't have been the way it went without them."
Ross (7-4), who fanned four, gave up a hit to Jimmy Paredes in the first inning, but induced a double play off the bat of JR Murphy to erase him.
The Kentucky native has allowed one unearned run over 22 innings in his last three starts for Texas' Class A affiliate. Ross is tied with Rome's Arodys Vizcaino for the Southern League lead in wins and is 10th with a 1.96 ERA.
The 20-year-old left-hander was staked to an early lead as Hickory scored three times in the first, including a two-run double by backstop Zach Zaneski. Ross praised the effort of his catcher and the offense.
"It makes it a lot easier to pitch when your team scores runs early, especially with this defense," Ross said. "My catcher is just unbelievable. He was calling pitches really well. He takes a lot of pride in his pitch calling. When you have you and your catcher on the same page, it's great."
Miguel Velazquez homered and scored twice for the Crawdads. West slugged a two-run homer, his first since April 22, while Leury Garcia was 3-for-5 and stole his league-leading 27th base.
Josh Romanski (0-1) took the loss for Charleston, allowing seven runs on nine hits and fanned three over three innings. Gabriel Tatis struck out three over two perfect innings for the RiverDogs (22-30).