To Martin Agosta, there was nothing complicated about tying a career high with 10 strikeouts on Friday night.
"The whole thing," he said, "was just getting ahead of hitters early."
The Giants' seventh-ranked prospect allowed two hits and two walks over seven innings as he pitched Class A Augusta to a 4-0 victory over visiting Lexington.
Agosta (5-2) has given up two runs over 21 innings in his last three starts to lower his ERA to 2.19, which ranks sixth in the South Atlantic League. He's also third with 71 strikeouts.
"It's just about pounding the strike zone, using the fastball to get ahead," the said. "I fell behind, 2-0, a couple of times, but my catcher [Ben Turner] has been great and my defense has been phenomenal."
Agosta worked a 1-2-3 first, but Mark Donato led off the second with a double down the left-field line.
"That was one where I fell behind, 2-0, then he fouled one off. I tried to overthrow a fastball and he put a good swing on it," Agosta said. "You just have to take it as it goes. You make sure you don't make that mistake again."
The 22-year-old right-hander fanned Fred Ford for his first strikeout of the night and escaped the inning unscathed.
The only other hit the Legends came off the bat of Royals No. 4 prospect Raul Mondesi, who poked a ground ball through the right side leading off the fourth.
"Mondesi hit a good pitch in a good location," Agosta said. "It was a good pitch, but he's a good hitter. Sometimes you make pitches that you think are good and guys hit them."
With top-ranked Kansas City prospect Bubba Starling at the plate, Agosta threw a wild pitch that advanced Mondesi to second. He struck out Starling, then fanned Donato on a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first and moved Mondesi to third.
"First, I threw a slider and it kicked away from Turner a little bit. To [Donato], I tried to get him on a fastball down and away, but it was more down than away," Agosta explained. "It was a tough ball to block."
With runners on the corners, Agosta fanned Ford again and retired Michael Antonio on an infield popup.
"That was a huge relief," the St. Mary's College product said. "I got him on a good pitch, a little over the middle, but he got under it enough."
Agosta struck out the side in the en route to retiring eight in a row.
"I was just finally starting to get to that point and finding the groove and get ahead to every batter," he said. "When you get ahead, you don't have to battle back from a 2-0 count -- you don't put yourself in that position. That's always good."
The streak ended with back-to-back walks to Donato and Ford in the seventh.
"It was just release point stuff. You want a quick inning, to get a guy out on three pitches, and maybe you try for that a little too much. Once you try to throw strikes, you can't throw strikes. You need to just throw it in the zone," Agosta said. "Turner ... came out and said, 'Look, just pound the zone. If they hit it, they hit it. If they walk, they get a free base, and that gives them an advantage you don't want to give them. So just throw the ball in the zone.'
"Then, I threw a good fastball in and look what happened: I jammed him and [shortstop Alberto] Robles made that great play for me."
With two on and none out, Antonio hit a hard liner to short, where Robles grabbed it and stepped on second for a double play. Fittingly, Agosta struck out the last batter he faced, Jin-Ho Shin.
Agosta said he wasn't tired after seven innings, adding that the two walks were not signs of fatigue.
"I was just trying to feel my way through," he said. "I felt fine, it's just, once you get a few runs, well, I was trying to aim and what I needed to be doing was pounding the zone."
San Francisco selected Agosta in the second round of last year's Draft, and he pitched 10 1/3 innings in the rookie-level Arizona League. He's recently had the feeling that he's settling into his first full pro season.
"I didn't know exactly what to expect, but so far, it's been fun. It always takes a couple starts to figure out things out, to know what you need to do in between starts and what you need to do in your starts," he said. "But I do think I'm getting the hang of it and I have a good idea of what I need to do to prepare for each start."