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Astros prospects team up, lead Peoria to first victory

DeShields, Fontana combine to go 4-for-6 with three runs from top of order

On a day when neither starting pitcher was particularly sharp, a pair of Astros prospects used their speed and patience to help Peoria to a 6-3 victory Thursday against Scottsdale at Surprise Stadium. It was the Javelinas' first victory of the Arizona Fall League season.

Center fielder Delino DeShields and shortstop Nolan Fontana combined to score three runs, and each went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. The pair, who are the No. 7 and No. 8 Astros prospects, batted back-to-back atop the Peoria lineup.

DeShields and Fontana have played together since the Astros selected Fontana in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. DeShields said they typically hit 1-2 in the lineup, giving Thursday a familiar feel.

"That's just how it's been all year for me," DeShields said. "It's comfortable. He knows what I'm going to do when I get on base and I know what he's going to do when he gets on. We know each other very well."

Not only did DeShields feel comfortable with Fontana hitting behind him, he said his transition back to center field is going well. He has played second base since the Astros drafted him eighth overall in 2010, but he is now moving back to his natural position.

"Yesterday was my first real game playing center field and it was weird. I thought, 'This is nothing, this feels like home out here,'" DeShields said. "I can't explain it. The game just comes to me. It's natural."

At the plate, DeShields helped spark a first-inning rally for Peoria. He, Fontana and left fielder Stephen Romero drew three straight walks off Scottsdale starter Kyle Crick to load the bases. After DeShields scored on a passed ball, catcher Cameron Rupp brought home the Fontana and Romero with a double.

The Javelinas scored another run off Crick in the second inning when second baseman Cory Spangenberg scored on DeShields' infield single. Spangenberg finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base.

Crick, the Giants' No. 1 prospect, allowed four runs on three hits and three walks in two innings. He struck out four batters. The shaky start was uncharacteristic for Crick. He only allowed four or more runs in a game twice this season and posted a 1.57 ERA in 68 2/3 innings at Class A Advanced San Jose.

Peoria starter Johnny Barbato also struggled with his command Thursday. The right-hander walked four batters and recorded only two outs in the first inning. But thanks to right-hander Angel Baez, who relieved Barbato with the bases loaded, the Scorpions scored just once in the first inning.

Scottsdale cut the deficit to 4-3 on second baseman Tommy La Stella's two-run double off Baez in the fourth inning, but the Scorpions would get no closer. Four Javelinas relievers combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the game. Right-hander Dominic Leone struck out two batters to earn the save.

Center fielder Mason Williams was the only Scorpion to record multiple hits Thursday. The Yankees' No. 2 prospect went 2-for-4 with a double and a run. La Stella went 1-for-3 with two walks, a run and a stolen base.

After losing the first two games of the season to Surprise, DeShields said he felt the Javelinas came together Thursday.

"It's taken probably about a week to really get comfortable with the guys," DeShields said. "But I feel everyone is getting along and trying to have fun. That's what the game is about."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.
Read More: Scottsdale Scorpions, Peoria Javelinas, Mason Williams, Delino DeShields, Cory Spangenberg, Nolan Fontana, Tommy La Stella, Cameron Rupp