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Baseball: TCU-transfer Horton looks the part in UL win over Texas + extensive photo gallery

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Feb. 17, 2019

Click here and scroll down for photo gallery.

In his Ragin’ Cajun debut, Dalton Horton — drawn to UL by a few well-known former Cajun pitchers — lived up to the hype.

The transfer from Texas Christian seemed sound, allowing one run and three hits while striking out five over 5.0 innings as UL beat No. 16 Texas 8-6 Sunday on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

He did so coming off a one-season layoff due to a shoulder injury and the move.

“He can handle a heavy load. He’s a big-bodied guy,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said of the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder.

“He was an innings eater for (TCU). … He handles the running game good. He’s been in big moments. He’s not gonna be scared of people.”

More: UL preseason position breakdown

Horton wound up at UL largely because of Cajun connections.

In the summer of 2016, he, current UL Friday-night starter Gunner Leger and ex-Cajuns pitcher Hogan Harris — now in the minor league — all pitched in the Cape Cod League.

One of his former pitching coaches is Trey Poland, an ex-Cajun who also pitched in the minors.

The combination of the three played a part his making the move from a program where he thrived early on.

As a freshman, Horton was 8-0 with a 2.58 ERA over 59 1/3 innings — 13 appearances, 12 of them starts.

A multi-team Freshmen All-American, he was named to the All-Big 12 second team.

But Horton, dealing with pain, worked just 13.0 innings over six games as a sophomore, making three starts and going 3-0 with a 9.00 ERA.

More: Butterflies behind, Leger goes five in UL loss to Texas

Neither Horton nor Robichaux offered specifics on the injury, with Horton saying it had “something to do with” his shoulder.

“It’s tough to explain,” Horton said, “so I’ll leave it at that.”

“The injury he had really wasn’t a surgical thing, but a lot of us haven’t even seen it,” Robichaux added. “I mean, we had to call some other doctors to see if they’d seen it before.”

Physical therapy got the lefty from Center High in Texas to where he was Sunday.

“Coming into (January) I was still kind of dealing with it,” Horton said. “But I knew I’d been working with … the best P.T. you could possibly work with, and I was feeling good … closer to the season.”

Robichaux, his weekend rotation still a question, liked what he saw.

“We would consider him a weekend arm no matter what,” he said. “We just didn’t know if the injury would allow him to be (one).

“But today he went out and logged in a good workload for the first one.”

More: Lots of questions for Cajuns pitching staff led by Leger

Horton threw 92 pitches, including 49 strikes. Four of his five strikeouts came in his last two innings.

Now he’s a candidate to move into the Saturday spot, though perhaps not right away.

“We’ll see how he recovers from this,” said Robichaux, whose 1-2 Cajuns next series at Sam Houston State. “That will be a good test for him going into next weekend

“If he needs the extra day, then we’ll keep him on Sunday.”

Robichaux pulled Horton after five complete, and he got the win.

“He had done enough,” Robichaux said, “and because he’s a rehabber we just didn’t want to overextend him.”

Like Leger, Horton hadn’t thrown in a game since the 2017 season.

So while he has command of his changeup, and can pitch to both sides of the plate, also like Leger, his velocity isn’t yet all back.

Still, Sunday was satisfying.

“It’s been awhile,” Horton said, “but it’s just fun to be back out on the field with the boys, just out there grinding and trying to catch some wins.”

Related: Painful layoff nears an end for Ragin' Cajuns pitcher Leger

WHAT HAPPENED

UL took a 1-0 lead when Daniel Lahare walked and later scored on a double steal.

Texas scored its first on a flyball out to right, then an E3 on Lahare’s throw to plate that allowed Ryan Reynolds to score.

The Cajuns took a 2-1 lead as Brennan Breaux singled and later scored on Gavin Bourgeois sac bunt.

Todd Lott doubled in Breaux and later scored on a Lahare’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.

In a four-run fifth, a bases-loaded walk taken by Breaux scored one UL run, Lott’s sacrifice fly scored another and a two-RBI single up the middle by Gavin Bourgeois made it 8-1 UL.

But Texas picked up four in the seventh, three on an Eric Kennedy homer to left off Jack Burk. The Longhorns managed one more in the ninth, but closer Austin Bradford relieved Chance Stone and the Cajuns came up with the final two outs — the last coming as Bradford struck out pinch-hitter Tate Shaw with the bases loaded.

More: Leading-hitter Lahare makes move for UL baseball team

LAGNIAPPE

Breaux was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI; Lott had two RBIs, Bourgeois three. … Jordan Wiley started in right for UL. … Texas took the series 2-1. … Attendance: 5,119.

NEXT UP

UL visits Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night.

More: Too much went wrong in the second for UL against Texas



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