KU baseball falls to TCU’s offensive flurry in Big 12 tournament

Kansas coach Dan Fitzgerald protests a call to the umpire during an April game against Kansas State. Kansas fell 5-4 on Friday, April 14, 2023.

Kansas’ run at the Big 12 Conference baseball tournament isn’t quite over yet, but it sustained a series of punishing blows in the sixth inning Thursday night.

An inning that began with small ball for TCU — a single to first base, a walk, a soft-hit ball up the middle to score a run and chase Jayhawks pitcher Ethan Bradford — got big very quickly when Horned Frogs third baseman Brayden Taylor sent a two-run blast to right-center field.

Taylor broke his school’s record for career home runs and fueled a five-run inning that expanded KU’s deficit from 5-4 to 10-4. Relievers Luke Savage and Ben Abeldt quieted the Jayhawks’ lineup for the remainder of the game, TCU walked off with a run-rule victory in the eighth inning, and the Horned Frogs claimed a 14-4 win at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, to consign No. 8 KU to the secondary bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

No Jayhawk pitcher lasted longer than Bradford’s two innings against TCU’s potent lineup, as Savage took the win and Hunter Cranton the loss. Taylor led the way for the Frogs with a 4-for-5, three-RBI day with two doubles and a home run. Anthony Silva also drove in three runs, and hit the go-ahead RBI single that broke open a 3-3 tie in the third inning.

Indeed, KU went back and forth with TCU early, but couldn’t sustain its pace. The Jayhawks loaded the bases in the first inning with one out but could only manage a sacrifice fly by third baseman Mark Brooks, and the Horned Frogs responded immediately with a three-run frame. Nunez singled on the first pitch by Thursday’s starter Hunter Cashero, Taylor drove him in, and then Cole Fontenelle whizzed a ball past the first baseman’s glove for a triple before coming around to score on an error.

The Jayhawks managed a tie after a Luke Leto home run and two-out RBI double by Cole Elvis, but the Horned Frogs claimed the lead for good following back-to-back-to-back singles in the bottom half of the third.

Mike Koszewski and Janson Reeder, the grand-slam hero against Texas Wednesday, were the only players with multiple hits for KU, but neither drove in a run. Instead, the Jayhawks got their final score of the night on a full-count solo home run by Jake English.

That flicker of hope was extinguished by the Horned Frogs’ sixth-inning flurry. TCU then added a sacrifice fly by grad student Austin Davis in the seventh before a three-run eighth against Steven Andrews, culminating in a Logan Maxwell RBI fielder’s choice that activated the run rule.

KU will now have to reckon with an impromptu Sunflower Showdown elimination game Friday afternoon, as it faces No. 5 Kansas State at 3 p.m. The winner will face TCU in a rematch Saturday.


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