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BlueClaws win first SAL title

Maloney pitches Lakewood to 5-0 blanking of Augusta
September 15, 2006
The Lakewood BlueClaws won the first South Atlantic League championship in their six-year history Friday, riding the pitching of Matt Maloney to a 5-0 blanking of the Augusta GreenJackets.

Maloney (2-0) recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts en route to his first complete game of the season. He scattered seven hits and two walks in lowering his postseason ERA to 1.13.

"It's great to get the win," Maloney said. "I was pretty confident out there. I spotted my curve, and my fastball was pretty good. When I got two strikes on a guy, I tried to get the strikeout.

"Lou (Marson) called a great game. We were on the same page all night. It's great to have a catcher who knows what you want to throw."

The 22-year-old left-hander fanned 11 over seven innings against Lexington in the clincher of the Northern Division Finals on Sept. 8. He was named SAL Pitcher of the Year after going 16-9 with a 2.03 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 27 regular-season starts.

The BlueClaws got on the board in the first, when Avelino Asprilla drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on SAL batting champion Mike Spidale's double. Jeremy Slayden followed with a RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

With runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, Slayden slapped an RBI single that chased starter Ryan Shaver. Clay Harris delivered a run-scoring base hit against Bryan Millikan, who uncorked a pair of wild pitches to plate Slayden.

Spidale and Slayden each had three of Lakewood's eight hits.

"This is great for the team, the city, the fans and the Phillies organization," Maloney said. "We have about 100 fans outside, waiting for us."

Shaver (0-1) was charged with five runs on five hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings. Millikan surrendered three hits in 3 1/3 scoreless frames.

SAL Player of the Year Eugenio Velez and David Maroul hit leadoff doubles in the fourth and ninth, respectively, for Augusta. But the GreenJackets could not get anything going against Maloney, who saved his best performance for his final outing of the season.

Johany Abreu went 2-for-4 for Augusta, which left runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth.

Lakewood, which opened the season with a nine-game losing streak, posted a pair of 2-1 road wins to begin the series before losing at home on Thursday, 11-5.

Marc Jimenez is a contributor to