Making just his second start in more than a month, Matt Wickswat helped make history for the Kannapolis Intimidators.
Wickswat pitched five innings and combined with two relievers on the second no-hitter in franchise history Friday as Kannapolis blanked the Hickory Crawdads, 1-0, in the second game of a doubleheader.
Signed by the White Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, Wickswat (7-5) faced just one batter over the minimum. After walking Zach Zaneski with one out in the second, the 24-year-old left-hander retired the last next 11 batters he faced.
Wickswat recorded five strikeouts, exiting after reaching his innings limit for the game.
"I was able to throw my fastball and get ahead of batters with it, and my defense helped me out," he said.
Jake Petricka came on in the sixth and issued a leadoff walk to Guillermo Pimentel. But the White Sox's second-round pick in the 2010 Draft bounced back and struck out two, stranding the tying run on third base.
"In the back of my head, [the nerves were] definitely there because I didn't want to ruin it for Wickswat because he did most of the work," said Petricka, who was making his fifth appearance with Kannapolis. "And I wanted to keep that going."
Taylor Thompson picked up his fifth save with a perfect seventh, closing the game in style by striking out Zaneski on a full count.
"It's an honor to be part of something like that, first time in my life," Thompson said. "You look at the scoreboard early in the game, realize the situation and realize it's your job to come in and close out the game. You can't worry about the no-hitter, you have to worry about winning the game."
Wickswat, who was making his second start since July 11, has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen for the Intimidators. He's 7-5 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 games but has pitched well in August, posting a 1.72 ERA with 19 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings.
"I just try to go out there and do what they ask of me, whether it's in relief or starting," the Washington native said.
Wickswat said his teammates had a healthy respect for the tradition of ignoring a pitcher working on a no-hitter.
"Yeah, at the beginning guys will talk to you and do this and that, but once the fourth and fifth inning came around guys stared staying away from me," he said.
The Intimidators (26-27) broke the scoreless tie in the fifth. Miguel Gonzalez hit a leadoff single and reached third after a sacrifice and a groundout. Tyler Saladino beat out an infield single that put a smile on Wickswat's face.
"I was pumped when we pushed across that run," he admitted. "It's always exciting. A close ballgame is fun."
Brian Miller pitched Kannapolis' other no-hitter -- also a seven-inning gem -- when he beat Greensboro, 2-0, on June 10, 2003.
Chad Bell (2-3) took the loss, despite pitching his first career complete game. The Rangers' 2009 14th-round pick allowed one run on four hits and fanned four.