‘They’ve been amazing and resilient’: TCU baseball wins Big 12 Tournament Championship


Charles Baggarly

TCU defeats Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament Championship on May 28, 2023. Photo: Charles Baggarly

By Charles Baggarly

ARLINGTON – The Horned Frogs entered the Big 12 Tournament finale with a fresh pitching staff compared to Oklahoma State; it proved effective.

TCU secured its fourth Big 12 Conference Tournament Championship in program history, defeating the Cowboys 12-5 on Sunday at Globe Life Field. An eight-run offensive onslaught in the second and third innings gave head coach Kirk Saarloos and Co. a sizable lead.

“[I] can’t say enough about our team and our players in terms of what they’ve gone through and coming out the other side of it and … playing good baseball,” TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said. “It’s a lot of fun, and they deserve all the credit. They’ve been amazing and resilient.”

Shortstop Anthony Silva drove in the first run of the ballgame with an infield single to give TCU an early lead. To follow it up, left fielder Luke Boyers, in his first at-bat of the tournament, hit a three-run home run to right field.

Third baseman Brayden Taylor was “super happy” for Boyers.

“Luke [Boyers] is my roommate, and I’m just super pumped that he was ready to hit,” Taylor said. “He was itching to get out there, and he got a good pitch to hit and put a swing on it. That just shows a lot about him, you know, being ready.”

Taylor also hit a home run, extending TCU’s lead to seven in the eighth inning with a blast to right field. The veteran third baseman extended the all-time program record to 46 career home runs.

In the Big 12 Tournament, Taylor recorded a .500 batting average, hit three home runs, collected 11 RBIs and made several terrific plays on defense. He was named the 2023 Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Designated hitter Kurtis Byrne made a case to be named the Most Outstanding Player as well; he tallied three hits and reached safely four times in the championship. Byrne’s season batting average has skyrocketed in May, and is currently .298.

Right fielder Austin Davis also had a clutch championship performance, collecting three RBIs and three base hits.

A sizable advantage

TCU has been on an elite run during the entire month of may; they’ve won 14 of 16 and run-ruled two opponents to open the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma State played two more games than TCU prior to the championship, and it was evident; the Cowboy’s first three pitchers already tossed a few innings during the tournament.

The Frogs’ bullpen was more fresh. Saarloos started left hander Chase Hoover, who threw one inning against Kansas State on Wednesday.

“I thought [Hoover] was gonna give us a really good chance,” Saarloos said.

Hoover lost a bit of his control and allowed two runs in the third inning. TCU had already seized a commanding lead.

“[Hoover] kind of wiggled himself out of two innings and obviously didn’t get through the third, but that was an awesome experience for him that he’ll be able to utilize and pull from over his career at TCU,” Saarloos said. “Because I think he’s got a really good chance to be a really, really good starting pitcher at TCU.”

Relief pitcher Luke Savage took over for Hoover, tossing four innings without allowing an earned run.

“We’ve got incredible guys behind me, an incredible guy at the dish,” Savage said, referring to catcher Karson Bowen. “So really just doing all I can to get ahead and let the defense work and get our offense a chance to go back out and score some runs.”

Relief pitcher Cohen Feser gave up a three run home run in the seventh inning, giving the Cowboys a glimmer of hope. He bounced back in the eighth inning, forcing an inning ending double play with the help of some defensive skills from first baseman Cole Fontenelle.

Relief pitcher Garrett Wright struck out the side in the ninth inning to secure the Big 12 Championship. Five TCU players made the all-tournament team: Taylor, Byrne, Bowen, center fielder Elijah Nunez and relief pitcher Ben Abeldt.

Up next

With the conference championship, TCU has punched its ticket to an NCAA Regional Tournament. The Horned Frogs will find out where they are heading Monday morning. The 2023 college baseball tournament selection show will air at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.