Senzatela, Prime show Tourists the way

Pitcher allows one hit over 8 2/3 innings; first baseman homers twice

Right-hander Antonio Senzatela is 5-1 with a 3.75 ERA through nine starts for Asheville this year. (Tracy Proffitt/

By Mark Emery / | May 23, 2014 1:11 AM ET

Class A Asheville benefited from exceptional performances both on the mound and at the plate in Thursday's 7-1 win at Hagerstown.

Starter Antonio Senzatela allowed three hits and one run across a career-high 8 2/3 innings and first baseman Correlle Prime slugged two home runs -- including his first professional grand slam -- while collecting a career-high five RBIs as the Tourists improved to 6-1 over their past seven games.

"Antonio has great stuff," Prime said. "We all know it, so this wasn't a huge surprise for us. That was good to see for him, and even after he gave up the homer, he still had a smile on his face. He did what he had to do for us and put us in great position to win, giving up only one run."

Senzatela, Colorado's No. 20 prospect, retired the first two batters of the ninth inning, but lost the shutout when Craig Manuel pulled a changeup over the right-field fence. For pitch-count purposes, Manuel was going to be the right-hander's last batter regardless of what happened, according to Asheville pitching coach Mark Brewer.

"Everybody was happy for the kid," said Brewer, who added that Senzatela was not even gassed at the time of his exit. "He battled his fanny off."

The Venezuela native struck out two, walked one and hit one batter. He induced 11 groundouts and four flyouts. Through nine starts this season, he is 5-1 with a 3.75 ERA.

Senzatela yielded a two-out double to Carlos Lopez in the second and a two-out single to Wilmer Difo in the sixth after issuing his lone free pass to Isaac Ballou. He also beaned Brennan Middleton to start the third.

Before the late homer, the 19-year-old had thrown 14 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to his last outing, when he kept Lexington off the board over 5 2/3 frames.

"Everybody in the bullpen that was watching him [before the game], all the relievers and myself, including the starting catcher (Jose Briceno), we recognized that he had something going tonight," Brewer said.

Senzatela wasn't the only one. With one out in the second, right-handed hitter Prime stepped into the box and ripped an opposite-field solo shot over the fence in right. After popping out to end the top of the fourth, he came up again with one out and the sacks full in the sixth.

That's when the Florida native launched a grand slam to center field, giving himself the first multi-homer game of his career. He also had never driven in more than three runs in a game before Thursday.

"It really didn't sink in 'til after the game," Prime said. "They had a really good pitcher (Hector Silvestre) on the mound. During at-bats, I was just concerned about putting the ball in play hard somewhere to help my team.

"The bases just happened to be loaded in my second at-bat. I got a fastball I could handle so I just put it in play, and I hit it pretty good to right-center and it just carried out for me. It feels really good to help my team out in that fashion."

Prior to Thursday, the 20-year-old was batting .222 (14-for-63) with runners on and .195 (8-for-41) with teammates in scoring position, so his first slam since high school was particularly satisying. It upped his home run total this season to 10, which ties him with teammate Ryan McMahon, the Rockies' No. 5 prospect, for the South Atlantic League lead.

"Ryan and I are really close, so he joked with me about it," Prime said. "He was like, 'Hey man, you trying to lead the league or something?' He tapped me on the helmet, he's like, 'I'm coming for you, though. I'm coming for you.' So it's a friendly competition going on, which is good."

While the Tourists were ecstatic about Prime's two roundtrippers, they were disappointed about the one that tarnished their pitcher's otherwise stellar outing. But Senzatela's start was far from ruined, especially in their eyes.

"I didn't even look at it," Prime said. "When he hit it, I was like, 'Please hit the wall.' I was just waiting for a sound off the wall, and the fans started cheering. We all looked at each other like, 'Dang, man.'

"It was tough looking at that. But he just brushed it off, though, I know he was a little upset about it. But it was still a great, quality outing and we got the win and he got the win, so that was awesome."

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

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