LIMA — Left-hander Dan Sexton was dominating last summer.
His fastball jumped and he had command of his off-speed pitches.
The 5-foot-11 Sexton, a first team all-Great Lakes League pitcher last year, is back with the Lima Locos.
Last summer Sexton went 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA. In 38 2/3 innings, he gave up 30 hits. He struck out 21 and walked nine.
“I just went out there and threw what I had,” he said. “I trust myself. I’ve always trusted myself.”
Sexton, who pitched at Tiffin in 2014, recently wrapped up his first year at Sinclair Community College. At Sinclair, he was 10-0 with a 2.57 ERA. In 70 innings, he struck out 76.
Sexton has signed with Wright State for this fall. He’ll be on the same Raiders’ staff as his brother, left-handed pitcher Robby Sexton, who will be a senior.
“I had a pretty good year,” Sexton said. “I worked on getting more command of my fastball. I spent a lot of time in the weight room and worked on command of my pitches. The change-up and slider have been working as good as ever. It all came together.”
The Locos open GLCL play at 7 p.m. Friday at Grand Lake. The Locos’ home opener is 7 p.m. Saturday against Xenia at Simmons Field.
Sexton grew up in Pataskala and went to Watkins Memorial High School.
Coming out of Tiffin last year, it took a couple of starts in the GLCL to gather his confidence. Once he had it, he was down right nasty for hitters to face.
“(Former Locos pitcher, who threw 95 mph) Cory Wilder was a little intimidating and I saw some big name guys in the league last year,” Sexton said. “It was pretty intimidating at first, but I think I adapted pretty well. In my first start last year, after the second home run I gave up, I kind of settled in.”
Sexton uses an 86 to 88 mph fastball, and has topped out at 91. But the most impressive thing about his fastball, is the way it explodes and slides down and away from the hitter.
“It just tails away. It’s not the grip, it’s the arm slot,” Sexton said.
He also uses change-up, which nose dives, like a kid pushing his cereal off the table. His third pitch is a slider, but he admits, “to be honest, I never know where it’s going to go.”
Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said, “We expect him (Sexton) to do great things for us,” The only concern is he did throw a lot of innings (70) this spring, so we’ll try to keep his pitch count down throughout the summer. He’s a battler and is a guy who wants to throw the ball all the time.”
One of his highlights last summer was throwing a nine-inning, complete-game 8-0 shutout over Xenia. He gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked none.
It was only nine-inning, complete-game shutout for the Locos last year.
Wilder and Sexton were the Locos’ top two starters last year and formed a 1-2 righty, lefty combination that helped the Locos win the GLCL regular-season title with a 27-13 record. The Locos lost to Licking County in the best-of-three semifinal playoffs.
“I remember hanging out in the bullpen with the guys and talking about baseball,” he said. … Things you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”