If circumstances had been different, Franklin Perez and Mitchell White might have battled deep into the night. But their abbreviated appearances made for an entertaining pitchers' duel.
Perez -- Houston's No. 3 prospect -- gave up two hits and a walk while striking out six over five innings as Double-A Corpus Christi prevailed over Tulsa, 1-0, at Whataburger Field. Sixth-ranked Dodgers prospect White allowed two hits and two walks while fanning eight over five scoreless frames.
Video: Hooks' Perez notches sixth strikeout
Perez carried a 1-1 record and a 4.24 ERA through four Texas League appearances spanning 17 innings into Thursday's outing, while opponents had batted .319 against him. The 19-year-old showed vast improvement against the Drillers, using his breaking ball to create more balance alongside his signature fastball.
"I think the biggest thing was he was able to get some breaking balls in the zone for strikes," Hooks pitching coach Dave Borkowski said. "He really can be fastball-heavy and he made some mistakes with fastballs in his previous outings that have gotten hit on him."
Perez faced one over the minimum as he erased two of Tulsa's three baserunners with double plays in the first and fifth innings. Yusniel Diaz was the only Drillers hitter to get into scoring position after walking and stealing second in the second inning. MLB.com's No. 46 overall prospect struck out the side in the third and fanned six of the final nine batters he faced.
"I think it was a solid step in the right direction for him. Definitely a confidence-booster outing," Borkowski said. "The good thing about it is he was able to put up five zeros and I don't think it was anywhere near what he can show. I think he can be better even than what he did tonight."
Gameday box score
White labored a bit more than Perez, but still kept his opponent off the scoreboard for the second straight start. The right-hander yielded a hit or a walk in four of his five frames, yet only one got to second base. Antonio Nunez reached on a throwing error by Tulsa shortstop Drew Jackson after Arturo Michelena walked in the third.
Video: Tulsa's White finishes outing with a K
"I got a little erratic at times, but for the most part, I had pretty good control of everything," White said. "That helped keep them off balance for the most part."
Both players took notice of the other's dominance.
"It's fun when you're in a duel like that," White said. "He definitely pitched really well. It was pretty cool just getting a good rhythm because he was working pretty quick."
"I think anytime you get into a pitchers' duel like that, you got two good arms going at it, you want to outdo him and keep putting up zeros right along with him," Borkowski said. "I definitely think that picked up the focus and concentration a little bit more."
The battle came to an end after the fifth. The Hooks rotation had lined up for a tandem day, limiting Perez to five frames. On the other side, White -- still working his way back from a broken toe that sidelined him from late May until mid-July -- was held to roughly 70 pitches.
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The bullpens continued the scoreless stretch until Corpus Christi catcher Carlos Canelon lifted a home run off Karch Kowalczyk (5-6) in the bottom of the eighth. Riley Ferrell (1-2) recorded the final four outs for the Hooks -- fanning two -- to record the win.
On top of being an entertaining duel, the game was a pitching coach's dream.
"Those are beautiful, especially when [it lasts] about two hours and 15 minutes and it's pretty crisp on both ends," Borkowski said with a laugh. "Both teams pitched well. I'm not going to lie, I'll be pulling for a few more of those."