TCU defeats Arkansas in Fayetteville Regional Championship, advances to super regional

TCU right fielder Austin Davis tallied a team-high four RBIs in a 12-4 victory against Arkansas on June 5, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

FAYETTEVILLE – The Horned Frogs are heading to their first super regional since 2017, the last year they made the College World Series.

For the first five innings, it was a back-and-forth affair. The Razorbacks ran out of pitching, and TCU defeated Arkansas 12-4 on Monday at Baum-Walker Stadium.

“I thought both teams left every single thing on the field,” TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said. “I want to say congratulations to Arkansas on a phenomenal season. It’s never easy to win a championship, especially the SEC championship.”

TCU scored 10 runs in the second half of the ballgame, pulling away with a sizable lead. Saarloos said he was proud of the way the team responded to adversity.

“So, we’re obviously excited, but it’s not the destination,” Saarloos said. “We’ll enjoy tonight, and we’ll move on to the next round tomorrow.

Right fielder Austin Davis said he hasn’t fully processed the Horned Frogs are set to play in a super regional.

“It’s a great feeling,” Davis said. “We know that we’re not done yet. So we got to keep our heads down and keep working.”

Even through the middle of the season slump, Davis knew the team had to do one thing: keep working.

“We knew we were gonna … get back on the right track,” Davis said. “Going through all those ups and downs in the middle of the year prepared us for this moment.”

Arkansas took the lead in the fifth inning, and Saarloos didn’t say anything to the team because the players were telling each other what Saarloos would’ve told them. They’ve been in this situation before, and they knew what to do.

“They’ve been playing like this with their backs against the wall since the end of May,” Saarloos said. “And so every single game they’ve played, they’ve played like it’s their last one.”

After the game, Saarloos told the team he was proud of their perseverance.

“[Baum-Walker Stadium] is a very, very difficult place to play, and the fans are phenomenal,” Saarloos said. “They’re into it. They cheer for their team, and it’s a place where if the momentum gets going, it’s tough to stop.”

Cam Brown settles in, Ben Abeldt takes over

TCU starting pitcher Cam Brown had a shaky start, walking two batters and hitting another to load the bases with zero outs. The Razorbacks managed to take the lead with a sacrifice fly; Brown limited the damage and proceeded to toss three scoreless, hitless innings.

Saarloos said ending the threat in the first inning with one run on the scoreboard was a win. He added Brown improving control as the game moves on is something they’ve seen before.

“You kind of have to ride the highs you got kind of got to ride the lows a little bit, and [Brown] will right the ship,” Saarloos said. “It’s just a matter of how quickly he does it.”

Saarloos called Brown’s slider and fastball “premium stuff.”

“Sometimes, you know, when you don’t have the greatest command, it’s tough to hit,” Saarloos said. “Because you might get one at your face and then you might get one down painted on the corner.”

Saarloos had a “gut feeling” to put in relief pitcher Ben Abeldt before Arkansas right fielder Jace Bohrofen’s at-bat in the fifth inning; the Frog skipper wanted Abeldt to take over with a lead. Then, Bohrofen hit a home run, and left fielder Jared Wegner, the next batter, hit another.

The Frogs battled from behind, taking the lead back in the sixth inning and providing some insurance with a five-run eighth. Abeldt, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 1/3 innings, kept the Razorbacks off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

“Just filling up the strike zone, letting my defense work and just trying to give our team the best opportunity to win,” Abeldt said.

Arkansas’ pitchers run out of gas

Arkansas was playing its fourth game of the tournament. They ran out of pitching and were forced to throw multiple players who already pitched during the tournament.

After a shaky start from starting pitcher Cody Adcock, Arkansas brought in SEC first-team pitcher Hagen Smith, who allowed eight earned runs to TCU in one inning of work on Sunday. On short rest, Smith had a bounce-back performance.

Smith threw three 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run and striking out seven. Davis said you don’t want to fall behind in a count against Smith due to his slider, a great strikeout pitch. He added when you get your pitch, you can’t miss it.

“[Smith] is gonna come at you with his best stuff, and you gotta be aggressive early in the counts,” Davis said.

Saarloos reiterated the point, saying Smith threw some of the best sliders the team has seen this season.

“[Smith] had a really good slider, I thought,” Saarloos said. “He was commanding the fastball into our right-handers and throwing that slider underneath their barrel.”

As the game continued, TCU’s offense became more effective. After Smith was pulled, the Frogs piled on eight runs.

TCU continues offensive onslaught

The Horned Frogs averaged a whopping 14.6 runs in the Fayetteville Regional Tournament. They continued their offensive dominance in the championship.

Designated hitter Kurtis Byrne led the way, hitting two home runs. He also recorded a team high four hits.

Davis said Byrne is one of the hardest workers he knows; he knew Byrne would eventually turn on the gas.

“That dude lines out more than anybody I know,” Davis jokingly said. “[Byrne] hits the ball about like 115 off the bat every time.”

Second baseman Tre Richardson followed his historic three home run, 11 RBI performance with a 3 RBI day. Richardson hit a home run in the eighth inning, providing some insurance; Richardson, in the Fayetteville Regional, has tripled his home run total in 2023.

“[Richardson] has been hitting balls hard all year, and this just proved like what he’s been doing all year,” Abeldt said. “He’s been having a great year.”

Catcher Karson Bowen, first baseman Cole Fontenelle and Davis had multi-hit games. One of Davis’ hits was a go ahead, three-run home run in the sixth inning; the veteran outfielder collected a team high 4 RBIs.

Eight TCU players were named to the Fayetteville All-Tournament Team: Shortstop Anthony Silva, third baseman Brayden Taylor, centerfielder Elijah Nunez, relief pitcher Luke Savage, Richardson, Bowen, and Fontenelle.

Up Next

D1 Baseball first reported Indiana State, TCU’s next opponent, will not be hosting a super regional. TCU 360 confirmed the report. TCU will host the super regional at Lupton Baseball Stadium.

The super regional schedule is to be determined; it’s set to start on Friday or Saturday.