TCU defeats Texas State, extends win streak to six in regular season-finale at Lupton


TCU starting pitcher Braeden Sloan earns the win in a 8-2 victory over Texas State on May 16, 2023.

By Charles Baggarly

FORT WORTH – The Horned Frogs are heating up at the right time but still need to finish strong.

TCU baseball extended its winning streak to six on Friday, defeating Texas State 8-2 in the final regular season game of 2023 at Lupton Baseball Stadium. TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said the team played hard from the first pitch to the last.

“We just got to keep playing every game like it’s our last game,” Saarloos said.

Even though the Frogs are aware they need to perform well moving forward to get into the NCAA Tournament, they are hyper-focused on the present moment, worrying about what they can control. The team hasn’t yet discussed RPI, the Big 12 Tournament or the upcoming series against Kansas State starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

 “What we got to do is play good baseball,” Saarloos said. “And if we play good baseball, it’ll all take care of itself.”

Against Texas State, TCU played good baseball. Will they do the same against Kansas State?

For third baseman Brayden Taylor, the key to a winning weekend in Manhattan, Kansas is taking the field with the same energy they’ve brought during the current win streak.

“Just going out there trying to win each pitch, win each at-bat and focus on every pitch on defense,” Taylor said.

The Wildcats are 12-9 in Big 12 Conference play while the Horned Frogs are 11-10. Saarloos said TCU’s starting pitchers will have to succeed against Kansas State, who is “having a really good season.”

Saarloos mentioned the starting rotation is “settling in” and “not trying to do too much.”

“I think we have the right guys starting now,” Saarloos said. “They’ve grown up a little bit … We’ve been pitching at home and playing at home, which is nice. Now we’ve got to go take care of it on the road.”

Timely hitting makes a difference

Timely hitting was the game-changer against the Bobcats; TCU tallied four RBIs facing two outs.

“[Two out hitting is] a backbreaker for opposing teams and pitchers when you’re almost out of the out of the inning and then you string together hits,” Saarloos said. “… That’s what you want an offense to be able to do and never give up an inning. And I thought they just kept playing and had good at-bats.”

Shortstop Anthony Silva led the way offensively with two hits, one of which was his seventh home run of the year. The Frogs tallied eight hits, eight walks and seven stolen bases in the ballgame. Logan Maxwell, who started as a designated hitter, continued his solid play with a two-RBI single and a walk.

Defense gets it done

TCU’s pitching staff had a stellar performance, holding the Bobcats to two runs. Saarloos said starting pitcher Braeden Sloan performed well.

Sloan gave up a two RBI home run to Texas State second baseman Chase Mora in the second inning but was able to power through; the Freshman threw four 1/3 innings with the home run ball being the sole consequential mistake.

 “Just one pitch that they did damage on with the home run,” Saarloos said. “But other than that, [Sloan] was really good.”

Toward the end of Sloan’s outing, the bases were loaded with one out. Hunter Hodges entered the game, inheriting a tough situation.

Saarloos talked to Hodges about his role on the team on Sunday and before his appearance on Tuesday. He wants him to be a player that can come in and make big pitches in tense situations.

“I said I want you to be that guy,” Saarloos said, referring to his conversation with Hodges. “And he came in, and he did it. Threw the breaking ball and Brayden [Taylor] made a good play and got a double play. I thought that was the biggest turning point in the game.”

The double play wasn’t the only defensive gem Taylor made in the ballgame. In the third inning, he struggled to coral a hard-hit ball, making up for the bobble with a cannon of a throw to first base.

Left fielder Luke Boyers had of stellar play of his own, ending the game with a sliding catch in foul territory. Boyers collided with the fence but was able to maintain possession.

“We give him a hard time sometimes about going after balls in foul territory,” Taylor said. “…But that was awesome. That was an amazing catch.”

Success in relief

After TCU’s offense secured a lead, the relievers ensured the Frogs stayed ahead of the Bobcats. Cohen Feser tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two batters and allowing one hit; Feser leads TCU with a 1.82 ERA.

“I think [Feser is] staying out of the middle to plate now, where last year … a lot of his pitches were in the middle of the plate,” Saarloos said. “And now he’s commanding it to both sides of the plate with two breaking balls.”

Left-handed relief pitcher Ben Abeldt had a solid showing, striking out the side in one inning of work. In Abeldt’s last 7 2/3 innings, he hasn’t surrendered an earned run.

“[Abeldt is] doing a good job of knowing who he is and what he needs to do,” Saarloos said. “And he’s not a freshman anymore. He’s been out there plenty. So, he’s a sophomore. … He’s done a really good job of at filling up the strike zone.”

Luke Savage entered the game in the ninth, securing a scoreless inning to end the ballgame.