Senior second baseman Cam Warner delivered a walk-off infield single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to give the Horned Frogs (11-1) their seventh straight win.
Sophomore Luken Baker drew his team-leading 14th walk, and third of the game, with one out in the 10th. Sophomore Josh Watson then struck out for the second out before red shirt senior Nolan Brown rolled a ground ball up the middle to move Baker all the way to third ahead of Warner’s at-bat.
“We definitely needed to score pretty soon because we had two arms left,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “If we had run into another one of those long ones, we would have been in trouble.”
The Horned Frogs spent the majority of the game trailing after the Patriots scored the first run of the game in the second inning. DBU’s leading hitter, clean-up batter Devlin Granberg, doubled to open the inning before advancing to third on a ground ball and then scoring on a RBI single by Garrett Wolforth.
Sophomore starting pitcher Dalton Horton was huge for the Frogs as he made his first start of the season and only his second appearance overall. Horton picked up a no-decision after giving up one run on two hits and a walk in four innings while picking up eight strikeouts.
Horton was a prominent arm for the Horned Frogs in their run to Omaha as a freshman in 2016. He made 13 appearances including 12 starts. He threw 59.1 innings to the tune of a 2.58 ERA while earning eight wins and zero losses.
“He hasn’t thrown well most of the fall and certainly not in the spring,” Schlossnagle said. “For him to come out there and do that today against a really good offensive team, and strike out eight; he probably could have kept going, but I felt like he had done his job.”
Horton’s only 2017 appearance coming into Tuesday’s start was on Feb. 24 in the team’s lone loss of the season. Horton gave up four runs in the ninth inning, which was ultimately the difference in the game as TCU fell 13-9 to Arizona State.
“He certainly didn’t have the greatest outing when he threw against Arizona State that one time,” Schlossnagle said. “But just like anything else, you have to keep plugging, you have to keep improving, and the game will eventually come calling.”
The Horned Frogs were behind 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth when they pushed one run across to even the game. The top of the order came through as junior lead-off hitter Austen Wade singled to right field and then advanced to second when DBU relief pitcher Kragen Kechely threw an errant pick-off throw to first base. Senior Elliott Barzilli then put runners on the corners for junior Evan Skoug on a well-hit single to left field. Skoug drove in his eighth run of the season on a fielder’s choice.
Red shirt freshman Austin Boyles pitched a scoreless fifth inning and picked up an out in the sixth before he gave up an infield single. Schlossnagle called on red shirt junior Ryan Burnett who got both of the batters he faced out to end the sixth.
Freshman Charles King, who entered the game with a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings, pitched the seventh for TCU. DBU took a 2-1 lead as a lead-off double turned into a run after a sacrifice bunt and a RBI ground out.
The Patriots did not hold the lead for long. Fort Worth native Dalton Higgins came in and gave up a run in the bottom half of the seventh. Higgins got red shirt senior Evan Williams to strikeout and Wade to line-out to begin the frame, but a two-out rally consisting of a Barzilli single, a Skoug walk and a Baker RBI single knotted the game at two.
TCU went with freshman Trey Morris as their fifth pitcher of the night in the eighth inning. Morris surrendered a one-out single and issued a pair of two-out walks to load the bases before getting a fly ball to center field to escape the jam.
The Frogs stranded eight runners in the game including Watson in the bottom of the eighth who singled and stole second.
Both clubs went in order in the ninth. TCU called on sophomore stand-out closer Durbin Feltman who picked up a strikeout in the inning.
Feltman remained on the mound in the 10th, striking out two to work around a one-out walk. The Horned Frogs clinched the 3-2 win with the walk-off in the bottom half of the inning. In the last three games, Feltman has won twice and picked up a save in the other. He earned the win against Texas A&M on Saturday and a save against Ole Miss on Sunday.
The Patriots used six pitchers to strikeout 14 Horned Frogs. Despite its great start, TCU has been plagued by strikeouts, averaging 10 per game. Last year, the Frogs averaged just 6.5 per outing. The Frogs have also struggled to get hits at times, hitting only .270, a far cry from their .302 average a year ago. Even with the high punch-out total and a decreased average at the plate, TCU is still putting up an impressive eight runs a game.
Tuesday night’s game was a quick pit-stop in between last weekend’s trip to Houston and the upcoming four-game road trip to California. The Frogs will play a three-game series this weekend at the University of California, Irvine before taking on California State University, Long Beach on Tuesday. Friday’s first pitch is set for 8:30 p.m. CST.