MIDLAND, Mich. - To Great Lakes Loons pitcher Greg Harris, it didn't matter when Wednesday's game against West Michigan started. For that matter, it didn't seem to matter to any of his teammates, either.
After rain delayed the start of the game by two hours, Harris pitched five shutout innings, while the Loons jumped on Whitecaps ace Jonathon Crawford for four early runs on their way to a 7-0 win at Dow Diamond. The win prevented West Michigan from clinching a Midwest League Eastern Division playoff berth.
"It didn't bother me at all," said Harris of the delay, which pushed the game's start time to 9:06 p.m. "I did what I normally do in terms of preparation."
The 19-year-old right-hander from California allowed just two hits and struck out four while using a slightly different approach to the way he attacked hitters.
"I used my curveball a lot more, and the other thing was that I pitched inside a lot more," Harris said. "We're starting to emphasize that more and I could tell by the way their batters reacted that it made a difference."
Harris (5-4) is now tied for the team lead in win with Luis Chirinos. He's second on the team with 52 strikeouts.
"He was great," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "He was attacking the plate and he really mixed in the curveball."
Loons reliever Victor Arano was similarly effective, as he followed Harris' effort with four shutout innings of his own. The Whitecaps loaded the bases in the sixth inning with three consecutive singles, but Arano fanned Willy Adames to end the threat.
Meanwhile, the Loons offense came alive against Crawford - the Detroit Tigers No. 1 draft pick in 2013 who came into the game with a 2.18 ERA.
Jesmuel Valentin led off the first inning for the Loons with a sharp single, and came home two batters later when Paul Hoenecke lashed a double to the gap in leftfield. They added two more runs in the second as Crawford's struggles continued.
Crawford hit Josmar Cordero with a pitch leading off the inning - Cordero later scored on a wild pitch. Valentin drove in the Loons' third run with a sac fly to center, while Jacob Scavuzzo's two-out double made it 4-0.
Valentin had another sacrifice fly in the seventh, this time scoring Spencer Navin who'd doubled and took third on a wild pitch. The Loons added two final runs in the bottom of the eighth on a double by Brandon Trinkwon which scored Joey Curletta and Alex Santana, who'd both walked.
"I'll wait around for a win like that anytime," said Haselman.
The Loons (31-35) and Whitecaps (39-27) conclude their three-game series tomorrow night (7:05 p.m.) on $1 Family Feast Night, presented by Chemical Bank. Jonathan Martinez (4-5, 3.75 ERA) of the Loons will be matched against West Michigan's Buck Farmer (6-4, 2.60 ERA).
There will also be a postgame Fireworks Loontacular, powered by Dow Corning.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.