Nick Maronde went into his outing on Wednesday feeling like he had a point to make. Consider it made.
The Angels' No. 4 prospect allowed four hits and struck out five over eight innings as Double-A Arkansas blanked Corpus Christi, 4-0, on Wednesday.
Maronde walked one and faced five over the minimum for the Travelers. The 22-year-old left-hander retired the final nine batters he faced en route to his first win since being promoted to the Texas League.
"I was just keeping the ball down and jumping ahead with the fastball," Maronde said. "[Catcher] Carlos Ramirez was calling a great game and the defense behind me was making great plays. I was more comfortable. I was getting better feel for all my pitches, the guys were making defensive plays behind me ... Brian Hernandez at third and Darwin Perez at short. It's easy to pitch when the guys are making plays."
Maronde struggled in his Travelers debut on Aug. 2, yielding five runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings against Springfield.
"I kept the ball down tonight, that was the big thing," the Kentucky native said. "I wasn't really happy with that first start, so I had something to prove. It feels great, but more importantly, this team is close to making the playoffs so it feels great to help them."
Maronde was 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 starts for Inland Empire. California League hitters batted just .187 against him and he fanned 60 batters in 59 1/3 innings for the 66ers. Moving up a level, Maronde was able to spot the difference right away.
"The guys are gonna hit mistakes," the University of Florida product said. "If you leave the ball up, you're going to get hit. That's true in the Cal League, but it just seems like it happens more here."
Kevin Johnson pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Travelers' ninth shutout this season.
Perez slugged a three-run homer and Roberto Lopez added a solo shot to account for Arkansas' offense.
Paul Clemens, the Astros' No. 8 prospect, fell to 1-1 after giving up a run on three hits over six innings for the Hooks.