TCU baseball falls to Texas, loses fourth Big 12 Conference series of season

TCU starting pitcher Louis Rodriguez allows two earned runs through six innings in a 3-2 loss to Texas on April 30, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

FORT WORTH – In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Horned Frogs faced a one-run deficit and needed some Lupton Magic to tie the ballgame.

Left fielder Logan Maxwell stepped up to the plate with runners on the corners and one out; Maxwell swung at the first pitch of the at-bat, sending a shallow pop fly to left fielder Porter Brown, a former Horned Frog. Catcher Karson Bowen tagged from third, attempting to score the winning run; Brown made an accurate throw to secure the final out at home plate, and Texas defeated TCU 3-2 on Sunday.

“We got seven hits today,” TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said. “Sometimes you have to roll the dice. We sent him and [Brown] made a good throw.”

After the ballgame, Saarloos said the Frogs “played hard” and credited the Longhorns.

“We didn’t get it done,” Saarloos said.

The Horned Frogs have dropped their fourth Big 12 Conference series of the season. Considering their 7-10 conference record and overall performance as of late, they are in danger of missing the NCAA Regional Tournament.

Rodriguez gives it his all

TCU starting pitcher Louis Rodriguez put together a series-saving performance, but it wasn’t enough to power the Horned Frogs to victory. Saarloos discussed hitting and pitching, mentioning the Frogs haven’t been able to put performances together in both aspects at one time.

“We pitched well today,” Saarloos said. “We didn’t hit. It seems when you’re not playing well it’s ‘you hit, you don’t pitch. You pitch, you don’t hit.’ And that’s what’s happening. Plain and simple.”

Rodriguez, a freshman, started strong, making effective pitches in the opening three innings. Rodriguez played his position well, flashing impressive reflexes to catch a line drive in the second inning; he proceeded to double up Brown at first.

The Longhorns scored two runs in the third inning, and they were charged to Rodriguez, who didn’t make any crucial mistakes. Second baseman Tre Richardson couldn’t haul in a hard-hit ball and first baseman Cole Fontenelle was caught by surprise by a random high bounce, which caused the ball to carry down the right field line.

Rodriguez and the Frog defense had some unfortunate luck but responded accordingly. Saarloos said Rodriguez did a “nice job” limiting the damage.

Rodriguez stymied the Horns, exiting the game after six productive innings. He received plenty of hugs from teammates in the dugouts congratulating him for a series-saving performance.

The Horned Frogs drove in two early runs with two hits apiece from centerfielder Elijah Nunez and Richardson. After reliever Lebarron Johnson took over in the third, the Frog offense was shut down; Johnson allowed three hits and zero earned runs in six 1/3 innings, striking out six in the process.

Kirk Saarloos referenced Johnson’s previous outings as a starting pitcher, adding a high pitch count wasn’t a problem.

“[Johnson] just filled it up with fastball, changeup, and the slider,” Saarloos said. “We weren’t laying off the off-speed down and weren’t ready to hit the fastball when it was in the zone.”

The Longhorns were able to score off Luke Savage, a Preseason All-Big 12 Conference reliever, and take a late lead. Relief pitcher Garret Wright kept the game close in the ninth inning, but the offense couldn’t bounce back.

A struggling offense

TCU’s offense struggled, primarily due to a lack of timely base hits. The Horned Frogs had a team batting average of .200 facing two outs and .231 with runners on.

In the sixth inning, TCU almost placed a runner in scoring position; there was a close play at second involving first baseman Cole Fontenelle, who reached on a fielder’s choice. The officiating crew reviewed the play and concluded Fontenelle was out.

Saarloos, who was under the impression the challenge was the umpires’ decision, had a discussion with the officiating crew.

“[The umpires] said that it was their challenge, and then they came out afterward and said it was our challenge,” Saarloos said. “And so I was just trying to figure out whose challenge it was and why they switched.”

Nunez had a team-high two hits. Bowen and designated hitter Kurtis Byrne tallied clutch knocks in the bottom of the ninth to give TCU a chance, but the Lupton Magic was nowhere to be found.

Up next

TCU will face Texas in game three of the series at 1 p.m. at Lupton Baseball Stadium on Monday. The Horned Frogs will attempt to avoid the series sweep.