RockHounds' Neal nearly perfect

A's farmhand faces one over minimum in two-hit shutout

Zach Neal retired the final nine batters he faced on Tuesday. (Shawn E. Davis/

By Robert Emrich / | July 23, 2013 8:15 PM ET

You can't always get what you want, but Zach Neal did on Tuesday.

The Athletics farmhand gave up two hits while tossing the first complete-game shutout of his career as Double-A Midland defeated Frisco, 1-0.

Neal faced one over the minimum while throwing 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes. The South Carolina League native struck out three while not issuing a walk to the RoughRiders. Neal retired 15 in a row before Teodoro Martinez singled to open the seventh inning.

"I was just trying to get ahead with all three pitches," Neal said. "Whenever I can get ahead in the count and throw the pitches I want, I usually get a lot of ground balls. That was big for me tonight."

With a pitch limit of 110, the hurler cut it close in his effort to toss his first complete game. Neal was happy to get there, as it was a goal he had set for himself at the beginning of the year.

"It's a good feeling," he said. "I've had a rough couple of weeks, so to battle back and kind of get on track, it feels good. It's something I wanted to do this year ... and it happened to be a shutout which is better. It's a good feeling."

Neal (7-8) signed with Oakland in the offseason after spending the previous three seasons in the Marlins organization. The 24-year-old right-hander has a 4.28 ERA in 21 Texas League starts for the RockHounds. He's been especially effective over his last three starts, allowing two earned runs on 11 hits over 21 1/3 innings.

"I've been able to get ahead with all three pitches and I've been able to pound the strike zone," Neal said. "When I was having a rough couple of weeks, I wasn't locating my fastball as well as I should be and guys were taking advantage of it. Past couple of starts, I've been able to spot my fastball and mix in the other pitches and that's been the key for me."

Dusty Coleman doubled home Connor Crumbliss in the fourth inning to account for the RockHounds' only run.

Tyler Tufts gave up a run on four hits over five innings to fall to 3-3 for Frisco.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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