As good as Madison Bumgarner was during the regular season, he was even better in his first playoff game as a professional.
The 19-year-old left-hander struck out 10 over eight innings of three-hit ball Wednesday as the Augusta GreenJackets blanked the Asheville Tourists, 1-0, in Game 1 of their best-of-3 South Atlantic League semifinal series.
"This was probably my best game of the year," said Bumgarner, who led the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA during the regular season. "It was a perfect night. Everything was working, my slider, change and fastball."
Bumgarner (1-0) went 15-3 with a 1.46 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 24 regular-season starts en route to Pitcher of the Year honors.
"I had a little bit of nervousness before the game," he admitted. "But when I threw the first pitch, all of a sudden it all went away."
The only hits he allowed were singles to Michael Mitchell in the second and eighth and a base hit to Jeffrey Cunningham in the fourth. The North Carolina native retired the side in order five times, setting down 10 consecutive Tourists in one stretch.
"The coaches just told me to relax and stay calm, even if I gave up some runs," he said. "Luckily, it didn't come to that."
Andrew De La Garza closed it out in the ninth, allowing a hit and striking out two, for the save.
"I threw 89 pitches and felt great," Bumgarner said. "But we had a fresh guy ready to go."
Bumgarner's counterpart, Connor Graham (0-1), may have been even better. He gave up just one hit -- a single in the fifth by Angel Villalona -- over eight frames. He was charged with an unearned run, walked two and struck out 10.
The GreenJackets' scored the game's only run in the sixth without getting a hit. James Simmons walked, Andrew Davis reached on Graham's throwing error and Shane Jordan walked to load the bases. Nick Noonan followed with a sacrifice fly to left.
Augusta, which coasted to the second-half Southern Division title, snapped a three-game postseason losing streak that dated to 2006. Box score
In other SAL action:
Lake County Captains 10, West Virginia Power 4
Juan Valdes homered, doubled and drove in four runs as the Captains cruised past the Power in their playoff opener. Karexon Sanchez added a two-run shot for Lake County. Box score
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.