Brayden Taylor ties home run record, leads TCU to dominant win over Kansas State

Brayden Taylor hugs his teammates after a historic home run in a 16-3 victory over Kansas State on May 24, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

ARLINGTON – The Horned Frogs opened the Big 12 Tournament with a dominant offensive showing at Globe Life Field.

TCU thrashed Kansas State 16-3 on Wednesday, advancing to face the winner of Kansas-Texas. Third baseman Brayden Taylor tied the TCU program home run record with the 44th of his career, and he followed it up with two doubles on his way to tallying a team-high six RBIs.

With the historic home run, Taylor scored catcher Karson Bowen, who was screaming “He broke the record!” as he rounded the bases. Bowen was excited for Taylor, who wasn’t too caught up with the accomplishment.

Taylor said tying the record was nice but is focused on taking things one pitch at a time.

“For me, I try not to get caught up in all the numbers,” Taylor said. “Just going out there and playing the game how it’s supposed to be played, and [hitting home runs] is just a byproduct of it.”

Taylor threw up a Horned Frog hand symbol as he rounded third base and gave Bowen, centerfielder Elijah Nunez and first baseman Cole Fontenelle a group hug at home plate.

“This is [Taylor’s] third year here, and he’s been the leader all along,” Bowen said. “So it’s been nice just to get behind him, and he put us up in the first inning.”

TCU kept its foot on the gas, tallying 17 hits in the ballgame. The Horned Frogs have won 11 of 13, and Saarloos said “showing up and playing good baseball” has carried over to the postseason.

Taylor said the entire team played with a sense of urgency.

“Everyone was on time ready to hit,” Taylor said. “… We tried to keep it as simple as we can. And we had a good time out there.”

Eight of nine players recorded a base hit; Nunez had a strong performance with three hits and a walk and Bowen led the team with four hits. Designated hitter Kurtis Byrne drove in four runs, hitting his sixth home run of the season in the process.

“The key was just keeping it simple and being on time for a good pitch to hit, putting a good swing on it,” Taylor said. “We were able to do that a lot today.”

Saving arms for the future

TCU’s offensive onslaught allowed the Horned Frogs to save bullpen arms for the rest of the Big 12 Tournament. Cam Brown started on the mound, lacking control at times; the offense’s performance gave him a cushion.

“I thought our guys were prepared to play,” Saarloos said. “We swung the bats really well, which gave Cam [Brown] the ability to go out and relax and give us 10 quality outs.”

In the top of the first inning, before TCU scored its runs, Taylor and Bowen made a tone setting play. With Kansas State right fielder Cash Rugely taking off for third, Bowen threw him out to secure the second out of the inning; Brown followed it up with a strikeout, escaping the threat unscathed.

Saarloos said the play allowed Brown to take a breath. It set the tone, which provided TCU with an opportunity to strike first and seize the momentum.

“I thought [the play at third base] turned the inning completely around,” Saarloos said. 

After Brown walked three batters and hit another to plate Kansas State’s first run in the fourth inning, Jax Traeger took over. The freshman limited the damage to one run after inheriting a bases loaded situation; he continued to throw two 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run.

“You’re gonna need to use a lot of pitchers,” Saarloos said, referencing Big 12 Tournament play. “You’re gonna need to use the whole staff, so it was really great to see [Traeger] go out there and give us what he’s got.”

Left hander Chase Hoover tossed a scoreless inning, securing TCU’s victory via run rule before the seventh inning stretch.

Up next

TCU will play the winner of Texas-Kansas at 4 p.m. Thursday at Globe Life Field. TCU’s starting pitcher is to be determined.

“We’ll see how [Texas-Kansas] shakes out,” Saarloos said.