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Prince paces Phoenix past first-place Peoria

With two hits, Brewers shortstop prospect lifts AFL batting average to .405

Phoenix is out of the AFL championship picture, but its hottest hitter keeps rolling along.

Brewers prospect Josh Prince bumped his league-leading hit total to 34 hits with a triple and a single -- and scored twice as the Desert Dogs outlasted the first-place Peoria Javelinas, 6-4, on Monday afternoon. A versatile leadoff man who can play almost anywhere on the diamond, the 24-year-old lifted his Fall League batting average to .405, second-best on the circuit.

Prince, who hit .251 for Huntsville in his first Double-A season, said he made significant adjustments to his swing during the break between the end of the regular season and reporting to the AFL.

"When I got home, I started working with my brothers on flattening out my swing and giving myself a chance to stay in the zone longer," he said. "That continued once I got out here, working with [Desert Dogs hitting coach] Darnell Coles on being smooth.

"It's been a big confidence boost to play well out here, where the talent level is so unbelievable."

The two clubs exchanged runs for the first three innings as Peoria plated two in the top of the first and one each in the second and third, but Phoenix followed suit in the bottom half of all three frames. Prince got the Desert Dogs offense going in the first with a leadoff single, later scoring on an infield hit by Kyle Jensen (Marlins).

Phoenix took the lead in the sixth when Jensen roped a shot to deep center field that didn't quite get out.

"We had a 20-mph wind coming straight in from center and Billy [Hamilton, the Peoria center fielder] was fighting the wind and the sun and the wall -- Kyle just kept on trucking and came all the way around," Prince recalled. The play was scored an error on Hamilton, the Reds speedster who is still learning the outfield after being drafted as a shortstop.

After walking in the third and grounding out in the fifth, Prince laced a triple to left with one out in the seventh and scored a key insurance run on a two-out single to center by Nick Ahmed (Braves).

After Phoenix starter Nick Bucci (Braves) surrendered four runs -- three earned -- on three hits and a pair of walks over the first three frames, the Desert Dogs bullpen stifled Peoria's league-leading offense. Grant Dayton (two innings) and Michael Brady and James Simmons (one inning apiece) combined to retire 12 straight Javelinas between the fourth and the seventh, with Brady improving to 1-1 with the win.

Kirby Yates (Rays) worked around two hits in the eighth and Johnny Hellweg (Brewers) notched his second save with a scoreless ninth for the Desert Dogs.

The Javelinas dropped their third straight game and saw their West Division lead over Surprise cut to half a game. Third baseman Cody Asche (Phillies) was the lone Peoria hitter with more than one hit, going 2-for-5 with an RBI double, the Javelinas' only extra-base knock.

Peoria starter Tim Crabbe (Reds) yielded four runs on five hits over three innings, but it was reliever Carson Smith (Mariners) who took the loss on Jensen's unearned run in the sixth.

John Parker is a contributor to
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