One night after watching his teammates score 20 runs, Boone Whiting understandably had plenty of confidence when he stepped to the mound Friday.
"I felt really good going in," said Whiting, who got the nod to start Game 1 of the Appalachian League Championship Series. "To be honest, I had a lot of confidence."
Whiting allowed one run and struck out seven over six innings and Johnson City scored five late runs to win the opener of the best-of-3 series, 7-2, over the Elizabethton Twins.
Whiting held the Twins to five hits as the Cardinals moved within one win of their first Appy League crown since 1976. Game 2 is Saturday at Johnson City.
"It feels really good, I'm very happy with my performance," said Whiting, St. Louis' 18th-round pick in this year's Draft. "You couldn't ask for anything more than seven runs against a good pitching team like this. I'm grateful I was able to throw my stuff well enough tonight."
Whiting picked off Jamaal Hawkins in the first after the leadoff man singled. Nate Roberts followed with a solo homer to left, putting Johnson City in an early hole.
The Cardinals had Whiting's back -- Cesar Valera scored on a sacrifice fly and Philip Cerreto singled home Greg Garcia in the third to give Johnson City a 2-1 edge. Whiting cruised thereafter, coming out after six in line for his first playoff win after going 5-3 during the season.
Virgil Hill homered in a three-run seventh and the Cards tallied twice in the ninth.
"Unless I have an injury, I go in pretty confident," said Whiting, who won a dozen games over his final two seasons at Centenary College. "And after watching a 20-2 game yesterday, that helped."
Whiting said he threw all four of his pitches -- fastball, slider, curveball and changeup -- for strikes.
"They all worked for me," said the 21-year-old right-hander, who has allowed only two earned runs over his last six appearances.
Johnson City last claimed the Appy League championship in 1976, the second of back-to-back crowns before what's become a prolonged drought in the Rookie-level circuit. Elizabethton lost to Danville in last year's Finals after claiming consecutive titles in 2007-08.
Whiting said the team is pulling for Mike Shildt, who was named Appy League Manager of the Year last week after leading the team to its first playoff berth since 1994.
"He's a great manager, he deserves it," Whiting said. "I hope we can do it for him. He's so positive and has just been a great manager to have the whole year."
For Whiting, the opportunity to start -- and win -- may be a fitting ending to his first brief season as a pro.
"It's been a learning experience," he said. "I came in and pitched well, I felt like I could compete at this level. I had 10 strikeouts in one game and I hit a rough spot for a few games, but I was able to learn and use my fastball better and find out what it takes to compete and get outs."
Twins starter Pat Dean (0-1) took the loss, despite striking out eight and allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings.