Cody Crabaugh found the consistency he was looking for Friday night.
The Hoppers' right-hander won his second straight start, pitching seven strong innings to lead Greensboro to a 6-2 win over Hickory.
"I've been up and down since I've been here," Crabaugh said, "and it was time for me to get in a groove. I was consistent in college (Oklahoma City) and consistent in extended spring and I got back to that."
In his five starts since he was inserted into the rotation, Crabaugh had a good start, a bad one, a good one, another bad one and, his last time out, a good one. According to that pattern he was due for a bad start but it was evident early on that he wasn't going to fall into that trap.
Crabaugh retired the first nine batters and didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning. He was nicked for a run in the seventh inning but finished with just three hits allowed, one walk and one strikeout. Fifty-nine of his 89 pitches were for strikes, many of them coming on his curve ball.
"A week ago, JP (pitching coach Jeremy Powell) pulled me to the side and asked me about my curve ball," Crabaugh said. "I wasn't comfortable with it and told him I thought it was my fourth-best pitch. He said I should throw it more because it's such a different speed from my fastball.
"I've been trying to do that and tonight was the most curves I've ever thrown in a game. I just gripped it and threw it."
Powell said the difference in velocity, with the curve dropping over in the mid-70s and his fastball hitting the high 80s, kept Hickory's batters off-balance. The Crawdads made a lot of outs swinging early in the count.
Crabaugh's effort was just what the Hoppers' patchwork rotation needed.
"We don't know what we're going to get from the rotation every day," Powell said, "and how many innings we're going to get. So we'll take the good outings and ride them."
Crabaugh got all the support he needed when Brian Anderson drilled a three-run homer in the first inning, his second in four games since he joined the Hoppers. Felix Munoz added a two-run double in the seventh.
"That was a heck of an at-bat," manager David Berg said of Munoz. "He really bore down and got us some big insurance runs."
With two outs and two runners on, Hickory brought in left-hander Felix Carvallo to face the left-handed Munoz. But Munoz is hitting .300 against lefties this season and he ripped a double into the left-field gap to score both runners.
"Sometimes left-handed hitters lock in against left-handed pitchers," said hitting coach Frank Moore. "And when he's locked in, it doesn't matter if the pitcher is right-handed or left-handed."
NOTES: The game ended when center fielder Yefri Perez ran down a deep drive to center field with one run already in and another that would have scored on the play … Austin Dean had three hits for the second straight game and ninth time this season … Munoz made three straight unassisted putouts in the top of the third inning … The Hoppers' battery for Saturday's game will be completely new. Jose Adames will make his debut as the starting pitcher and Brad Haynal, an 18th-round selection in this year's draft out of San Diego State, will likely be the catcher. They worked together a few games in Batavia.