No. 10 TCU baseball’s early defensive mistakes prove costly against UT Arlington


By Charles Baggarly

FORT WORTH – The Mavericks beat the Frogs, but really, the Frogs beat themselves.

UT Arlington defeated No. 10 TCU baseball, securing an 8-7 win on Tuesday in a contest where TCU’s defense couldn’t stop stepping on its own feet.

“We didn’t do enough on the mound,” TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said. “And we didn’t do enough defensively and, you know, we came out, and we didn’t look like we wanted to be here the first two innings.”

In the innings referenced, the Frogs had a flurry of defensive communication issues that caused preventable mistakes. The offense, facing an uphill battle created by the defense, turned on the gas in the seventh inning and continued to fight. In the ninth, TCU needed two runs to tie, but only managed to score one, falling just short.

TCU tallied 13 base hits and struck out a total of three times, which is a season-low. First baseman David Bishop hit his first home run of the year, left fielder Luke Boyers went three for five and second baseman Tre Richardson recorded two RBI knocks.

Saarloos, comparing the offensive performance to this weekend, said the lineup performed better.

“I thought we hit some balls hard,” Saarloos said. “Probably more balls consistently hard than we have. I thought the approach was really good. So that was really good. … I thought offensively we were still missing a big knock here and there with with guys in scoring position, but I thought the bats were way better. So that’s the one positive.”

Defensive errors, preventable mistakes prove costly

TCU starting pitcher Braeden Sloan had a subpar first inning, allowing a bloop double and a home run. Although the start wasn’t ideal, Sloan was set to bounce back, as he only threw one bad pitch.

In the top of the second inning, however, the miscommunication issues commenced.

First, catcher Karsen Bowen left home plate to field a bunt, leaving the base uncovered with a runner on third. Sloan fielded the ball and had no one to throw to, and the Mavericks scored.

After another single, the poor infield play continued. Bishop leaped for a high-bouncing ground ball, which tipped off the top of his glove toward Richardson, who didn’t have a target at first base because Sloan didn’t cover the bag.

“I mean, you’re taught as a pitcher your whole life, get over and you can’t spectate,” Saarloos said. “And, you know, that’s what happens when you spectate.”

After another RBI single, the Frogs could’ve ended the inning with a three-six-one double play. A hard hit ground ball was hit to Bishop, who fielded it cleanly and threw to second. Sloan, once again, failed to rotate and left shortstop Brayden Taylor without a target.

With the inning extended, another Maverick run was plated. Saarloos pulled Sloan from the game, and Sam Stoutenborough took over, throwing three and 1/3 innings. Stoutenborugh had zero earned runs in the outing, but Frogs found more ways to gift the Mavericks runs.

In the fourth inning, TCU’s defensive woes continued. Stoutenborough struck out UTA first baseman Tyler Rice to end the inning, but the play was ruled a dropped third strike, as Bowen didn’t catch the pitch cleanly.

Bowen’s throw to first sailed over Bishop’s head by a few feet. In an inning that should’ve ended quickly, UT Arlington was able to move through the lineup and tally two RBI singles.

Bishop, in the fifth inning, cut to lead to five with a 416 foot home run to center field. The big swing proved inconsequential, as the Mavericks scored in the following frame after a wild pitch from relief pitcher River Ridings.

The offense battles back

The defense put TCU in a hole, but the Frogs battled back into striking distance.

In the bottom of the seventh, Singles from Boyers and Bowen and walks from right fielder Austin Davis and designated hitter Kurtis Byrne led the Frogs to score three runs in the frame. Suddenly, it was a three-run game.

After Richardson’s second RBI base hit in the eighth innings, the Horned Frogs needed two more to tie. Shortstop Brayden Taylor led off the inning and eventually faced a 3-2 count.

The Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year hit a towering ball 446 feet down the right field line, and Jon Wolfe, the first base umpire, called it foul. It was unclear, due to the clouds in the sky and the height of the baseball, whether it stayed within the foul pole.

When the play was reviewed, the replay didn’t show a clear angle. There wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. Saarloos asked the home plate umpire, Shane Matheny, for an opinion, as he thought Matheny had a better view than Wolfe.

Matheny didn’t see the play clearly, and the ball was ruled foul.

“[The foul call] doesn’t win or lose the game,” Saarloos said. “I mean, we didn’t play good in the first two innings and obviously [the home run] would have been nice to claw back within one with nobody out in the ninth. But that’s not the reason we lost the game.”

After a Maverick throwing error and a double from third basemen Cole Fontenelle, the tying run was in scoring position. Bishop grounded out on the first pitch of his at bat and Boyers struck out to end the contest, solidifying the Maverick victory.

Up next

No. 10 TCU baseball will start a weekend series against San Diego at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday at Lupton Baseball Stadium. Ryan Vanderhei will start on the mound for the Horned Frogs.

Shortstop Anthony Silva, with a tweaked hamstring, is questionable.

“There’s hope that [Silva] can play this weekend, but my gut, probably, is telling me he won’t,” Saarloos said.