The nation’s top pitching staff showed its depth Tuesday night with a six-hit effort from a quartet of hurlers as TCU beat local rival UT Arlington 5-1 at TCU’s Lupton Stadium.
The four pitchers, led by left-handed freshman Dalton Horton in his second start, worked to lower the Horned Frogs’ already nation-leading ERA of 1.23 entering the game. UTA’s lone run in the first inning was unearned after an infield error.
TCU hasn’t allowed an earned run in 23 1/3 innings.
The Frogs got all the scoring they needed in the bottom of the first when 6-foot-4, 265-pound freshman Luken Baker crushed a two-run double to left off UTA freshman left-hander Dylan Schneider in his first start.
Dalton has a chance to have a really good career for us, and he’s just a baby.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on freshman starting pitcher Dalton Horton
The victory was the third in a row for TCU (10-2) with Southern Cal coming to town for a three-game series starting Friday night. UTA (8-6) already has wins over Big 12 teams Baylor and Oklahoma State. TCU and UTA will meet for the second of three meetings this season March 29 in Arlington.
“This is a really good team,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of UTA. “It’s a really good win for us.”
Horton went five innings, one shy of his total innings worked this season. He got off to an inauspicious start when he hit the second batter he faced after the infield error that allowed the lead-off man to reach. Horton then walked the third batter on five pitches to load the bases with nobody out.
However, Horton limited the damage to the one run by inducing a double-play grounder by Mavericks cleanup hitter Quintin Rohrbaugh, and then got Brady Cox to line out.
“I was really pleased with Dalton,” Schlossnagle said. “A big key was bases loaded, nobody out in the first and [a] really good hitter up. Dalton threw a really good first-pitch changeup.
“Dalton has a chance to have a really good career for us, and he’s just a baby.”
We had some chances. The whole key was the first inning.
UTA coach Darin Thomas
TCU added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after Schneider hit the lead-off man and was pulled. Shortstop Ryan Merrill doubled in a run off right-hander Matt Michalski, and center fielder Dane Steinhagen made it 4-1 with an RBI groundout.
The Frogs believed they should have been credited with another run in the inning when Merrill slid headfirst into home plate off a ground ball to first. Merrill appeared to get under the tag, if not beat the throw altogether, but he was punched out, and that sent Schlossnagle out for a fruitless face-to-face meeting with the home plate umpire.
TCU reliever Jared Janczak, a redshirt freshman, allowed a single and struck out two in two innings. Freshman right-hander Durbin Feltman, TCU’s fourth pitcher of the game, got out of the eighth inning unscathed after allowing a couple of singles that put Mavericks on first and second with one out.
It was the only time the Mavericks had a base runner on second after the first-inning threat.
“We had some chances,” UTA coach Darin Thomas said. “The whole key was the first inning.”