TCU freshman Dalton Horton was on the way to a really nice pitching line.
Then he gave up a two-out home run in the sixth and a three-run home run with no outs in the seventh, and his totals — 6-plus innings, five hits, four runs, one walk, 10 strikeouts — wound up looking much more ordinary in the Horned Frogs’ 6-4 victory against ACU on Tuesday night.
“Poor Dalton,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said with a smile, looking over the box score.
But the 10 strikeouts sure stood out.
It was by far a season-high for Horton (3-0) and more evidence for Schlossnagle that the young left-hander is asserting himself as the midweek starter. Tuesday was also the deepest into a game Horton has pitched.
He mixed four pitches for strikes. That’s a really good sign for us. He’s putting some heat on some guys in that weekend rotation.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, on Dalton Horton
“It’s great for his confidence,” Schlossnagle said. “That three-run homer, it doesn’t mean a thing to me. He mixed four pitches for strikes. That’s a really good sign for us. He’s putting some heat on some guys in that weekend rotation.”
Horton shrugged off the chance for the sparkly line.
“They just put some good swings on some good pitches,” he said. “The ball had good late life all game. It happens. It’s baseball.”
Dane Steinhagen’s three-run home run highlighted a six-run first inning for TCU (17-3). Ryan Merrill had a two-run single in the inning.
The Frogs scored nothing after that against a stiff wind and the settled-down pitching of Nate Cole and four relievers for ACU (9-11).
But Schlossnagle wasn’t discouraged with his offense with a three-game Big 12 series beginning Thursday at Texas.
Dane Steinhagen’s first-inning home run was his second of the season and TCU’s 17th of the year. TCU began the day tied for the Big 12 lead in home runs.
“We squared balls up, hit a line drive to the shortstop, a bunch of balls hard to center field,” he said. “If we’d pulled those balls the way they did, they might have been home runs, too. I didn’t feel like our energy was lacking. If anything, sometimes you get up 6-0 and you’ve got a pitcher who’s coasting, it’s natural to kind of put it on cruise control. There may have been a little bit of that. But the quality of our at-bats, you could see all those positive at-bats, balls hit hard.”
First baseman Connor Wanhanen returned to the lineup after missing six games with a hamstring injury and went 0 for 4, but Schlossnagle said he “crushed” a ball to center field and appeared to get his timing.
Preston Guillory, Jared Janczak and Durbin Feltman each pitched a scoreless inning in relief for TCU, with Feltman getting his first save.