MIDLAND, Mich . - Some timely hitting, solid pitching and smart base running has been the way the Great Lakes Loons have gone about business so far in 2014. It was more of the same Thursday night at Dow Diamond.
Joey Curletta kept up his hot start to the season by turning in a 3-for-3, two-RBI performance as the Loons went on to beat the Bowling Green Hot Rods 6-2 in front of 2,349 fans on a Chemical Bank $1 Family Feast Night.
"I didn't do anything differently," Curletta said. "It was just the type of game where you stick to your approach and if you go 3-for-3 or 0-for-3, it's just part of the game. It just happens sometimes and you let the ball do what it does."
Some may have thought Curletta was going to hit for the cycle after starting the game with a RBI double in the first inning and a RBI triple in the third. But, he was hit by a pitch and singled to finish out his outstanding night at the plate. Now hitting .352 on the season, the Phoenix, AZ, native continues to lead the Midwest League in batting average and hits (59).
"He's stayed really consistent since the first game of the season," Loons manager Bill Haselman said. "If he has one game that's off it seems like he comes back and gets two or three hits that are hard line drives. He takes his game serious which is good to see."
Starting pitcher Scott Barlow and relief pitchers Ralston Cash and Victor Araujo were not to be outdone, each turning in solid performances of their own.
"What I liked about Barlow was that he really didn't have his good stuff and didn't have a good feel out there," Haselman said. "But he was still able to go five innings and give up two runs (both of which were unearned). That shows you a lot about a pitcher when he can go out and battle like that."
Barlow, who seems to be coming into form after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, did walk three, but struck out six. Ralston Cash, another Loon who has battled injuries early in his career, relieved Barlow and faced the minimum in two innings, striking out four. Victor Araujo closed things out and earned his first save of the season, allowing just one hit and recording three strikeouts.
"(Cash and Araujo) came in and threw the ball great," Haselman said. "They just attacked the hitters and trusted their stuff. They did what we hoped they would do and what we hope they will continue to do."
The Loons scored six runs on just nine hits, but they did benefit from two Bowling Green errors, drawing five walks and have two batters be hit by pitches.
"We did a great job of advancing around the bases paths and taking what they gave us," Haselman said. "Advancing runners and being focused and smart on tagging up really helped us tonight."
Things looked grim at the start with Hot Rods shortstop Juniel Querecuto leading off the game with a double and coming around the score on a single by Kean Wong that saw Loons centerfielder Jacob Scavuzzo misplay a ball which rolled to the wall.
However, Barlow (1-0) escaped with little damage done in the first and allowed only one other run when Alexander Simon scored on a fielder's choice in the fifth.
Bowling Green starter German Marquez (1-2) took the loss going 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, walking two and striking out four.
The Loons (19-21) continue their four-game home series with the Hot Rods (17-22) Friday night. Victor Arano (2-2, 6.12 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Great Lakes, while Bowling Green will counter with Jamie Schultz (0-0, 0.00). It will be MidMichigan Health Super Hero Night at Dow Diamond featuring Captain America and Spiderman. Fans will also have the opportunity to win an Amazon Kindle Fire through on picture contest on the Loons Facebook page.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information about the Loons, visit Loons.com, or call 989-837-BALL.