On a night he termed a "grinder," Luke Jackson was happy to leave Corpus Christi with a win. He was even happier to give all the credit to his offense.
The Rangers' No. 7 prospect set the tone, combining with two relievers on a one-hitter as Double-A Frisco rolled past the Hooks, 10-2, at Whataburger Field.
"The offense, that's what this should be about," Jackson said after his Texas League-leading eighth win. "They came out and brought it. It was unbelievable to watch them, 12 hits, 10 runs. You can't ask for anything more than that.
"On my end, it was one of those ones where you just kind of have to grind it out. I had some great plays made behind me and the offense did the rest of the work."
Jackson (8-2) and the RoughRiders found themselves on the short end early, despite Corpus Christi's inability to exploit early opportunities in big ways. In the second inning, Hooks leadoff man Andrew Aplin walked, stole second, moved to third on a fielder's choice and scored on the home team's only hit of the night. An inning later, a leadoff walk hurt Jackson and the RoughRiders again. Astros No. 6 prospect Delino DeShields worked his way aboard, raced to third on a sacrifice and came home on Nolan Fontana's sacrifice fly.
Two walks. One hit. Two runs.
"I was having trouble filling up first batter in every inning," Jackson said. "I don't know what was going on. First batter, I was kind of losing it. [Pitching coach Jeff Andrews] was just like, 'Listen, man, trust your stuff. You can get out of this, whether you like it or not.'"
The 22-year-old right-hander took the advice and steadied his effort while waiting for Frisco's league-leading offense to break out, which it did in a big way.
The RoughRiders erupted for six runs in the fifth, highlighted by RBI doubles from Drew Robinson and Teodoro Martinez and a two-run homer off the bat of Trever Adams.
"You've got to love that feeling," Jackson said. "That goes to the offense. They should get an extra win for that. I was a spectator, as well. I went out there and had a grinder and at least got out of some jams and made some pitches when I had to. Kept it in check enough for those guys to throw up 10 runs and nail this win into the ground."
Martinez added an RBI single in the sixth, and the RoughRiders tacked on three runs between the eighth and ninth. Oddly enough, Frisco got only a single from fourth-ranked Rangers prospect Joey Gallo, the Minor League home run leader who went 1-for-5 in his sixth Texas League game.
"It's kind of freakish if he doesn't hit a home run," Jackson said. "The guy gets up to bat and you think he's going to hit a home run every single time. It's kind of weird. It's something I've never seen before in my life. Plus, you have [Ryan] Rua protecting him and [Jake] Smolinski and all those guys. Everyone's hitting over .300. You've got to pitch to him and you've got all these guys raking behind him. It's a pretty scary lineup."
Jackson finished on a strong note, retiring his last eight batters. In total, he was charged with two runs on one hit and three walks while striking out three in five innings.
Behind him, Jon Edwards fanned six and walked one over three innings and Jimmy Reyes finished off the win with a perfect ninth, notching one strikeout.
"It was an absolute masterpiece out there," Jackson said of the bullpen's effort. "I don't know if [Jonny] fell behind any batter. Then Jimmy came in and shuts the door like he's been doing all year. It's been fun to watch."
Corpus Christi's Brady Rodgers (1-9) faced just one over the minimum through three innings but didn't record an out in Frisco's big fifth. He surrendered five runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four-plus frames.