Freshmen and transfers power No. 8 TCU baseball past UT Arlington in home opener

TCU second baseman Tre Richardson tallies two doubles in a win against UT Arlington on Feb. 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

FORT WORTH – After a 277-day hiatus, Frogball USA is back at Lupton Baseball Stadium. 

The Horned Frog baseball fans celebrated national Margarita Day and a 7-3 win from No. 8 TCU baseball over UT Arlington on Wednesday. The Frogs struggled at times, committing two errors and striking out 10 times; they still managed to secure a four-run victory.

Head coach Kirk Saarloos switched up the lineup, giving freshman catcher Karson Bowen and freshman designated hitter Fisher Ingersoll the start. The Horned Frog head coach also moved around the outfield; Austin Davis started in centerfield, Luke Boyers played right and Cole Fontenelle, a designated hitter this past weekend, played left.

While catcher Kurtis Byrne received a day off, centerfielder Elijah Nunez missed the home opener due to being in concussion protocol. 

“Elijah Nunez got hit in the back of the head on Sunday,” Saarloos said. “… He was fine on Sunday and then he woke up on Monday not feeling very good.”

The Horned Frogs are hopeful they will get the Preseason All-Big 12 centerfielder back in the starting lineup soon.

“But ultimately it comes down to how [Nunez] feels and we have protocols in place to make sure that we don’t rush him back,” Saarloos said.

New Horned Frogs power the offense

The freshmen and transfers, making their first impressions on the Frog fans at Lupton Baseball Stadium, played a key role in the victory. The bottom of the Frog lineup, Ingersoll, Bowen and shortstop Anthony Silva, powered the offense.

Saarloos said to have an effective, well-rounded lineup it is important not to be top-heavy, adding that teams don’t want to let the other pitcher take a breath.

“If you have a deep lineup that can go … 5-8 out of the bottom and it flips the lineup over, you feel pretty good about it,” Saarloos said.

What sparked the bottom of the order production? Designated hitter Fisher Ingersoll had a near-perfect outing at the plate, tallying a base hit, two walks and a sacrifice fly.

Saarloos said Fisher looked comfortable.

“I thought Fisher looked really good,” Saarloos said. “[Fisher] took some good swings. So that was really great to see.”

The new Frogs also showcased some power. Second baseman Tre Richardson, a transfer from Baylor, recorded two doubles and Fontenelle, a transfer from McLennan Community College, tallied the first home run at Lupton Stadium in 2023, a blast over the right field fence.

“When we recruited [Fontenelle], he was the guy who can [hit home runs] from both sides of the plate,” Saarloos said, adding the transfer had good at-bats in his Lupton Baseball Stadium debut.

The Frog pitchers hold the lead

The bottom of the order gave TCU the lead, and the pitchers played their role in keeping it. 

Braeden Sloan, a freshman, made his collegiate debut, tossing 3 1/3 innings and allowing one earned run and three hits in the start; Sloan struck out three Maverick batters but also walked two and hit two with a pitch.

Saarloos said Sloan is still learning what it’s like to pitch in college, adding the left-hander will improve.

“I thought Sloan wasn’t his best, but he got us into the fourth inning,” Saarloos said. “… He did good enough, but still not what we’re expecting of him.”

Louis Rodriguez took over for Sloan in the fourth inning, allowing one earned run and three hits in two ⅔ innings. The Mavericks made solid contact off the freshman right-hander, but were also fooled by off-speed pitches; Rodriguez finished with a team-high four strikeouts.

Saarloos said Louis was “really good” coming into the game and “doing what he does”, which is making it tough on batters with a fastball, slider and changeup pitch rotation.

In a surprising move, Cam Brown, a weekend starter, took over for Rodriguez. Brown, following a subpar performance against Arkansas on Saturday, threw one inning, holding the Mavericks off the scoreboard. Saarloos said the quick outing will give Brown confidence heading into the weekend.

“I wanted [Brown] to get out there to get that bad taste out of his mouth from Saturday,” Saarloos said. “I thought he threw good. He threw a real good curveball. I thought his fastball was pretty good. … He can throw all the bullpens he wants but it’s about getting it done when the lights are on and someone is in the box.”

Following Brown’s quick stint, sophomore Cohen Feser took over, finishing the game on the mound. Feser allowed one hit in two innings, striking out two Mavericks in the process.

Saarloos said Feser came in and did “exactly what we needed”, which included making two plays in the field. 

“[Feser was] Pumping strikes and throwing for quality stuff,” Saarloos said. “[Feser was] fielding his position.”

Up next

TCU will face Florida State University at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 24 in the first weekend series of the year at Lupton Baseball Stadium.