It would have taken a lot to break Jonathan Dziedzic's focus on Saturday night. Just ask the Helena Brewers, who couldn't get anything going against him.
"I guess you could say I was zoned in," the Royals prospect said. "I wasn't worried about anything else. I was just taking one batter at a time."
Dziedzic allowed two hits and struck out eight over six shutout innings as Idaho Falls held on for a 2-1 victory over Helena in Game 1 of the best-of-3 Pioneer League Championship Series.
"It was a good way to finish up the season," he said. "I've been just trying to make sure the next start is better than the last."
The Royals' 2013 13th-round pick never went more than five innings during the regular season, but he hasn't allowed a run in his last three appearances.
"I definitely felt more focused [than during the regular season]," said Dziedzic, who faced one batter over the minimum. "I wouldn't say my arm was better, but I tried to focus extra hard."
The 22-year-old left-hander gave up a one-out single in the first before getting Pioneer League MVP Michael Ratterree to ground into a double play. He retired the next eight batters, walked Ratterree in the fourth but promptly picked him off to end the inning.
"That came from the bench. I don't know if I would have picked off on my own. It came from [manager Omar Ramirez]," Dziedzic said. "That was huge. Anytime you get out of an inning like that, you save your pitch count. You don't face the next batter, and it gives you momentum going into the next inning, too."
He struck out two in the fifth and two more in the sixth before surrendering a single to Renaldo Jenkins, who moved up on a wild pitch before Dziedzic got a grounder to shortstop to finish his night.
"It felt like it went by pretty quick," the Lamar University product said. "I looked up and it was the fifth or sixth inning already."
The Chukars gave Dziedzic a 2-0 lead in the third as Elier Hernandez delivered an RBI single and scored on a double by Royals No. 7 prospect Hunter Dozier.
Helena got on the board right after Dziedzic exited. Back-to-back errors put two men aboard against reliever Josiel Martinez and Adam Giacalone reached on a bunt single to load the bases. A run scored on a double play, but Martinez retired Dustin Houle on a popup to limit the damage.
Glenn Sparkman retired the first five batters he faced before Ratterree singled with two outs in the ninth. Kyle Bartsch came on and struck out pinch-hitter Jalen Harris to record his first playoff save.
The rest of the series will be played in Helena, with Game 2 scheduled for Monday night.
"It was great to get the win, but we still have one more to go," Dziedzic said.