Jackson strong again for Crawdads

Rangers prospect loses no-hit bid with two outs in sixth inning

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | April 21, 2012 6:00 PM ET

One bad pitch wasn't enough to put a damper on Luke Jackson's night.

The Rangers' No. 17 prospect tossed 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before allowing a double as the Class A Hickory Crawdads beat the Savannah Sand Gnats, 6-1, on Saturday.

Jackson (2-0) did not allow a hit until T.J. Rivera doubled. Camden Moran followed with a single, but the 2010 first-round pick retired Brian Harrison on a fly ball to center field on his final pitch of the night.

"I was throwing in and away all night with my fastball and it caught too much of the plate and he went with it," Jackson said, referring to Moran. "Wish I threw a different pitch there, but you can't take back mistakes. It didn't ruin my night though."

Jackson ended up allowing two hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings.

"I was just throwing strikes and my defense was playing unbelievable," he said. "I was lucky enough to throw a strike or they made a play behind me. I had the best defense behind me."

Jackson retired 12 in a row before Moran's two-out hit in the sixth. It was the first time in his brief Minor League career that the 20-year-old right-hander completed six innings.

"I'm pretty happy," Jackson said. "I think before I went 4 2/3 [innings] and I was pretty frustrated that I couldn't get that third out. I was pretty excited to get to that sixth inning."

The Florida native has followed up a rocky debut season with an excellent start to 2012. He leads the Class A South Atlantic League with 29 strikeouts, ranks ninth with a 1.31 ERA and has yielded only 12 hits over 20 2/3 innings. Command was an issue for him last year as he walked 48 batters in 75 innings. He's issued seven free passes this year.

"Really, instead of just blowing out and throwing as hard as I can, I've been pounding the zone and pumping it up when I need to," Jackson said. "Our pitching coaches and staff and catchers have been calling a great game and I've been able to throw the ball where I want to. And my secondary pitches have been working."

Jorge Alfaro, Texas' No. 7 prospect, doubled, tripled and drove in two runs, while Drew Robinson was 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for the Crawdads.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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