Halfway through Thursday's Asheville-Kannapolis contest, it was pretty clear what was happening.
"I said it in the fifth inning," Tourists pitching coach Mark Brewer recounted. "I said, 'It's a good old-fashioned hardball game we've got going on here right now.'"
Asheville's Antonio Senzatela and Kannapolis' James Dykstra had each surrendered just one hit in a scoreless game. Neither had shown much vulnerability, and the offensive standstill continued until the eighth. After recording one out in that frame, Dykstra conceded a run on three straight singles.
The Class A Tourists emerged from the pitchers' duel with a 1-0 victory at the Intimidators' CMC-NorthEast Stadium. Senzatela, Colorado's No. 20 prospect, fanned nine and walked one over seven innings and Troy Neiman wrapped up the one-hitter.
"[Senzatela] didn't back down. That's for sure," Brewer said. "That's the kind of thing that he thrives off of. This is a young man that is very competitive and loves a challenge."
The Venezuela native lowered his ERA to 3.95 in becoming the third South Atlantic League pitcher to reach 10 wins this season. His only loss of the year happened back on April 24, when Augusta tagged him with six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Kannapolis enjoyed no such success against Senzatela in his second scoreless start of the year. His nine strikeouts marked a season high, while his one hit signaled a season low. After yielding a two-out single to Ryan Leonards in the third, he retired 13 batters in a row to close out his outing.
The polished performance impressed his coach even more because of Senzatela's young age.
"If you watched him pitch tonight," Brewer said, "and then you walked out of the game and somebody told you he's 19 years old, you'd go, 'You've got to be kidding me!'
"He's a sponge when it comes to taking knowledge and trying to repeat it and taking it into the game. And he's a student of the game. ... He is very intelligent. He really thinks about what he does before he does it."
The only other base runner Senzatela dealt with was Jacob Morris, who drew a walk with one out in the second. But Tourists catcher Jose Briceno promptly caught Morris trying to steal second base during the ensuing at-bat.
The right-hander induced eight flyouts and three groundouts while facing 22 batters, one more than the minimum for seven innings.
"Tonight was special because he took some instruction and tightened everything up from a delivery standpoint and executed to both sides of the plate with his fastball," Brewer said. "Along with the execution of his fastball, he executed his changeup and his curveball enough, from a percentage standpoint, to keep the hitters off balance."
Dykstra (6-8, 2.64 ERA) did many of the same good things as his counterpart on the mound. Across 7 1/3 innings, he allowed one run on four hits, ending with a career-high 10 strikeouts without a walk. The righty's night ended after Jordan Patterson, Briceno and Max White posted singles in the eighth.
Neiman did not allow a hit over the final two frames, striking out one en route to his sixth save.