Zach Jemiola had never pitched in the finals of any league before, but you would never know that from the poise he showed on the bump Thursday evening.
Channeling the excitement of playing in a championship series for the first time, Jemiola allowed one run on six hits while striking out five batters over 8 1/3 innings in Class A Asheville's 4-1 win over Hagerstown in Game 3 of the South Atlantic League Finals at Municipal Stadium.
"I thought it went really well," Jemiola said. "I was efficient with my fastball and I got ahead of a lot of guys and I was able to work from the game plan. I wouldn't say I was nervous, but I was excited. I knew if I stuck to my game plan, everything would be OK.
"I would say this is No. 1 in my life. I've never pitched in a championship series before. There was a lot of adrenalin going tonight. I was blessed to pitch in Game 3 for us and to give us a chance to get ahead."
Trent Daniel worked around a ninth-inning walk to record the final two outs and seal the victory.
Asheville right fielder Jordan Patterson clubbed a two-run homer, MLB.com's No. 41 prospect David Dahl reached base three times and tripled home a run and shortstop Emerson Jimenez collected three hits, an RBI and a run scored.
The win gave the Tourists a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-5 Finals. They can clinch the crown with a win in either of the final two games.
"Patterson has been very consistent," said Jemiola, selected by the Rockies in the ninth round of the 2012 Draft out of Great Oaks High School in Temecula, California. "Great bat to have in the lineup. Our whole team is a threat offensively and defensively. To have a guy like Patterson playing behind you is clutch. Game tied, 1-1, he came up with a huge two-run bomb to to give us the lead. I knew we were safe from there."
The lone run allowed by the 20-year-old right-hander came in the third inning when David Masters doubled to center field, advanced to third base on Wilman Rodriguez's groundout and scored on Rafael Bautista's infield hit that Jemiola deflected back up the middle.
That erased Asheville's 1-0 lead, but the Tourists plated a pair in the fourth and then tacked on an insurance run in the seventh to give Jemiola all the support he would need.
"I've been on this team all year and we're stayed together," he said. "It's a blessing to be able to play for a team like this, and there's no one else I would rather play with. It's a great group of guys and Mark Brewer, our pitching coach, has done a great job keeping me even-keeled."
Hagerstown's Reynaldo Lopez surrendered three runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four batters, issued three walks and uncorked a wild pitch.
Game 4 will take place Friday in Hagerstown at 7:05 p.m. ET with Game 5, if necessary, on Saturday.