SURPRISE, Ariz. — Preston Beck got his first chance in a Cactus League game Saturday as a Texas Rangers pinch-runner for David Murphy and made his way to second base on a wild pitch a few pitches later.Once safely there, he quickly turned to center field, where he saw his former UT Arlington teammate Michael Choice grinning at him.Each got a thrill at Surprise Stadium and not just for their good fortune of being high draft picks on teams that have won the past three American League West titles. They felt good also because it was a good day for UTA.“He was smiling, and I was laughing,” said Beck, the Rangers’ fifth-round pick last year. “UTA is definitely on the rise. They keep beating good teams, and they keep getting guys drafted. They have better facilities, which should help get better recruits. It’s just going up.”Beck, who went to high school at Dallas Bishop Lynch, didn’t have much of an impact on the outcome, a 4-3 victory over Oakland. Choice, though, hit into a forceout to end the game with the tying run at third base.But Choice, two years older than Beck and the 10th overall draft pick in 2010, is having an impressive spring. He’s hitting .414 (12 for 29) after going 0 for 2 against the Rangers but knows the A’s have a crowded big-league outfield.“I’m just trying to take it day by day,” said Choice, who graduated from Mansfield Timberview. “There are a lot of good outfielders. All I can do is come in and work hard. Whatever happens, happens.”Brandon Snyder went 2 for 3 and hit his first spring homer to tie the game in the seventh, and catching prospect Jorge Alfaro plated the go-ahead run three batters later with a two-out, pinch-hit single.Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and Joe Ortiz each worked a scoreless inning of relief.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson