Mike Augliera proved his pitching coach right.
The Red Sox prospect allowed six hits and struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings on Sunday as Class A Advanced Salem blanked Potomac, 4-0, to move within one win of the Carolina League championship.
Augliera (1-0) fanned five straight batters and six of seven before giving up a two-out single to Randolph Oduber in the seventh that put runners at the corners. Madison Younginer came on and retired Cutter Dykstra on a fielder's choice to preserve the Red Sox's 4-0 lead.
"I was able to command my fastball for most of the night," Augliera said. "I was able to throw strikes and let the defense make plays behind me. When we score four runs, it makes my job easier. I was able to command my fastball to both sides of the plate. I didn't have my changeup tonight, so I was pretty much fastball-slider."
Augliera was praised by his pitching coach, Kevin Walker, on Saturday night after Salem won the opener of the best-of-5 MillS Cup Finals.
"He's a guy that's really been kind of our rock in the starting rotation," Walker said.
"It's something I wanted to take upon myself to get a 2-0 lead in the series," said Augliera, a 23-year-old right-hander who was taken in the fifth round of last year's Draft. "I tried to do my part and make it an easy night for the bullpen. As a pitcher in the playoffs, it's your job to go deep in the game and keep your team in the game. I just did the best I could to minimize damage."
Sean Coyle delivered a run-scoring triple in the fifth and an RBI single two innings later. The leadoff hitter has struggled with injuries this season and missed the opening-round sweep of Myrtle Beach.
"It's nice having him back in the lineup," Augliera said. "When he's in the lineup, he's another force we have. It's just another dynamic at the top of the lineup we have."
Salem takes a 10-game winning streak back home, needing one more victory over the final three games to claim its first Mills Cup title since 2001, when the club was affiliated with Colorado.
"We're feeling pretty good," Augliera said. "We know the series isn't over, but we put ourselves in a good spot. Hopefully, we don't want to look too far ahead, but it's definitely nice to try and clinch the series at home."
Younginer held the Nationals hitless over the final 2 1/3 innings and notched his first postseason save.
Mookie Betts, the Red Sox's 16th-ranked prospect, collected three hits and is batting. 462 in the playoffs.
Potomac starter Brett Mooneyham (0-1) issued four walks over four innings and was charged with two runs on one hit. He struck out three.
Game 3 is Tuesday.