MIDLAND, Mich. - Great Lakes Loons pitcher Scott Barlow had a lot of fuel in his tank after an 11-day layoff, and he needed all of it Sunday.
Barlow threw 100 pitches in six innings at Dow Diamond, but repeatedly battled out of trouble in pitching the Loons to a 3-1 win over Dayton before 3,217 fans. The victory was the third in four games for the Loons, who are off to a fast start in the Midwest League's second half.
"I felt good," said Barlow, who gave up five hits and four walks but struck out eight. "The rest really helped refresh my arm. But our starting pitching was good all series and I just watched what our other guys did in the first three games."
Meanwhile, Loons third baseman Paul Hoenecke continued his trend of game-breaking hits. Hoenecke hit a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the fourth to give the Loons a lead they never relinquished. On Friday, Hoenecke sent the game into extra innings with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, and the Loons went on to win 5-4.
Sunday's home run may have been more impressive, however. Facing Dayton All-Star Nick Travieso, who'd given up just one earned run in three previous starts against the Loons, Hoenecke fouled off several pitches, including one off of his knee, before homering on a 3-2 count.
"The foul off of my knee woke me up," said Hoenecke, smiling. "But it was a good at bat. I fouled off some good pitches and then he left one out over the outer half the plate."
The home run was Hoenecke's team-leading 10th of the season.
"What a good at bat that was," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "He just keeps coming up with big hits for us."
Dayton scored in the first inning off of Barlow when Ronald Bueno scored from third on a passed ball after Phil Ervin doubled. The Dragons had great scoring opportunities in the fourth and sixth innings, but Barlow was up to the task. In the sixth, back to back singles by Jonathan Reynoso and Carlton Daal with two out had him reeling, but he fanned Gabriel Rosa on a 2-2 count to end the threat.
Barlow then turned it over to the Loons bullpen, which was airtight. Jordan Hershiser pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, while Victor Araujo (0.92 ERA) pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save.
The Loons added an insurance run in the seventh when Jacob Scavuzzo had a leadoff single, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Webster Rivas, went to third on a ground out, then scored on Dillon Moyer's single off of Dayton reliever Ryan Kemp.
"We've really been coming together the last few weeks," said Hoenecke. "We're more together. Guys are pulling for each other - we're not just sitting there thinking about our last at-bat."
The Loons are off tomorrow before beginning a three-game series Tuesday in South Bend. Right-hander Victor Arano (3-3, 4.6) is scheduled to start for the Loons, who return home next Friday to begin a four-game series with the Lansing Lugnuts.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit loons.com.