Ruben Alaniz knew his team's season would be over if he didn't make a quality start on Saturday, but he didn't dwell on it.
"I tried not to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "My main thing was to pitch good enough to keep the team in a position to win this game. In the end, that worked out for us."
The Astros prospect dominated for seven innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out six, in Double-A Corpus Christi's 1-0 win at San Antonio. The victory followed back-to-back losses and forced a decisive fifth game in the Texas League semifinals.
After working out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, Alaniz did not allow another runner to reach second. He retired eight in a row from the fourth into the seventh.
"I was only thinking, 'Keep us in the game, keep us in the game,'" the 22-year-old right-hander said.
That was no easy task, thanks to San Antonio's Juan Oramas, who fanned five over six scoreless innings.
"I was having fun. I had good fastball command all game," Alaniz said. "I was able to keep the ball down and the defense played great behind me. I've got to take my hat off to them."
The game remained scoreless into the ninth, when pinch-hitter Michael Burgess punched an RBI single through a drawn-in infield. It was the second plate appearance of the series for Burgess, who connected on the first pitch he saw from Missions reliever Jeremy McBryde.
Edgar Gonzalez (1-0) struck out the side in the eighth to get the win and Alex Sogard worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his first postseason save.
Alaniz, a native of McAllen, Texas, said Saturday's win turns the tables in the series by earning the Hooks a trip back to Whataburger Field, where they were 43-27 during the regular season.
"It's huge. We were saying, 'OK, let's get to a Game 5 at home.' We're a tough team at home. This ended up being a huge game," said Alaniz, who signed with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent in 2009. "The momentum has shifted to our side now, after it shifted their side yesterday. Now we're going back home and playing in front of our fans. It's huge."
Awaiting the winner of Sunday's game are the Arkansas Travelers, who completed a three-game sweep of Tulsa on Friday.