No. 10 TCU struggles to string together base hits in loss to No. 14 Louisville

TCU catcher Karson Bowen launches a two-run home run to left-center in a 3-2 loss to Louisville on March 4, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

HOUSTON – The Horned Frog offense was bested by Cardinal starting pitcher Greg Farone, who struck out nine batters.

The left-hander allowed two hits and one earned run in seven innings pitched. Behind the strong start, No. 14 Lousiville defeated No. 10 TCU 3-2 on Saturday in the Shriners College Classic.

“[Greg Farone] was throwing in, out, up and down with a breaking ball,” Saarloos said. “.. Kind of like at DBU, we were in between pitches, you know, like we were late on the fastball and not swinging at off-speed stuff in the strike zone. So we helped [Farone] out, but he did a really good job. But that’s becoming too much of a theme.”

The Frogs were blanked through seven innings, but with one swing of the bat, the Cardinal lead was cut to one. Catcher Karson Bowen, facing relief pitcher Tate Kuehner, hit his first home run of the year, a blast over the tall fence in left-center field.

“That’s what it looks like when you get a count leverage, and you get a fastball and you don’t miss it,” Saarloos said.

Bowen had a solid game, but it wasn’t perfect. In the fourth inning, after an on-target throw from shortstop Brayden Taylor to the plate, the ball somehow came out of Bowen’s glove. As a result, a run was scored.

“[Bowen] had his other hand in there,” Saarloos said. “I thought it was secured and somehow it just came out.”

Bowen, who threw a Cardinal runner out at second with a speedy throw, more than made up for the blunder as the game continued, especially considering the two-run blast was the Frogs’ only source of offense.

“It’s nice to see a guy in terms of given opportunities and taking advantage of it,” Saarloos said. “And, you know, and he’s the guy that wants to play more.”

Besides Bowen’s home run, TCU struggled to get going offensively. Saarloos said he hopes his players were paying attention to Louisville’s offensive approach.

“As you can see with [Louisville], they did a good job of lining up to the opposite side gap with the fastball and if the breaking ball was in the strike zone, they did a good job of hitting that too,” Saarloos said. “So, I mean, we could take a lot from a loss in terms of what they did offensively with their approach.”

Fighting back

The Cardinals jumped on the scoreboard in the third inning with a home run off TCU starting pitcher Kole Klecker and added another after the Bowen error. Meanwhile, the Frogs were bested by Farone, but continued to fight defensively to stay within striking distance.

TCU needed a strong performance in relief of Klecker, and left hander Chase Hoover delivered, throwing four scoreless innings to give TCU a chance. Saarloos called the performance “really clutch.”

“[Hoover] did exactly what we needed him to do in terms of a middle game of a series,” Saarloos said. “I thought [Hoover] grew up a little bit today in terms of his the way you pitch.”

The Cardinals were stymied by Hoover and suffered the consequences of two runners interferences. After Bowen’s home run, the Cardinals were within reach. Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Frogs had a chance to tie the game or walk it off.

Right fielder Austin Davis started the frame with a leadoff walk. Then, catcher Kurtis Byrne hit into his fifth double play of the season, fizzling the Frog rally. Saarloos said Byrne needs to be ready for the fastball and added every player in the lineup needs better pitch selection.

After a single from second baseman Tre Richardson, first baseman Brody Green, who was substituted for Bishop, was hit by a pitch. Saarloos said he’s trying to give different players opportunities in different situations to see if they are ready for the bright lights.

“David [Bishop] hasn’t been seeing the baseball very well,” Saarloos said. “He’s swinging at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone.”

Cole Fontenelle, who started at third base due to shortstop Anthony Silva tweaking his hamstring, was a few feet away from a walk-off blast, hitting the ball to the warning track to end the ballgame.

Up next

TCU (6-4) will face Rice on Sunday in the team’s final game of the Shriners College Classic. Saarloos said Silva is out and right hander Cam Brown will start on the mound. First pitch is at 3 p.m. at Minute Maid Park.