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Big 12 Tournament Game Recap: TCU Knocks Off Kansas State

 Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network  |    May 23rd, 2024 11:06pm EDT

Photo Courtesy of Big 12

Arlington, Texas – On the third day of the first game of the 2024 Big 12 Conference tournament at Globe Life Field, the No. 9 seed Texas Christian University Horned Frogs beat the No. 6 seed Kansas State University Wildcats 9-4 to knock them out in the elimination round.

“Head coach Pete Hughes and Kansas State had an awesome year. Regional team, in my opinion. They should be getting in on Monday. Really good year and a good game today”, TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos complemented in his open statement on the No. 6 seed program in the Power Five Conference during the postgame press conference.

The TCU arms kept the Kansas State offense off guard on Thursday with sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Ben Abeldt, relief pitcher’s senior southpaw Zachary Cawyer and sophomore right-hander Luis Rodriguez allowing eight hits, four earned runs, two walks, and striking out 12 batters during their win on Thursday.

“My slider and my knuckle curve are working pretty well for me. My catcher Kurtis Byrne stole a couple of strikes for me, which I loved. The connection he and I have is amazing, ” Rodriguez told World Baseball Network during the post-game press conference.

Abeldt also spoke to World Baseball Network during the postgame press conference and countered Rodriguez’s comments, displaying how Byrne has been a workhorse for the pitching staff during the 2024 campaign.

“I always love Byrne back there. He’s a great catcher. He definitely does me justice, that’s for sure. I was just trying to brace the two strikes like we’ve been taught many times and let my defense take off”, Abeldt said in the post-game press conference after throwing five innings, allowing three hits, one earned run and nine strikeouts.

Abeldt faced 18 batters and chucked 85 pitches with 59 strikes—Abeldt’s current ERA at 1.82 for the 2024 season.

The Wildcats pitching staff behind starting pitcher Jackson Wentworth and relief pitchers Blake Dean, No. 74-ranked MLBpipeline.com Top 150 Draft Prospect Tyson Neighbors, and JJ Slack allowed 14 hits, nine earned runs, five walks, and 12 strikeouts in their loss on Thursday.

The TCU offense did not hold back in getting on the board. Freshman right fielder Sam Myers led off the game with a double down the right-field line.

A few batters later, junior left fielder Logan Maxwell lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, with Myers coming in to score for the game’s first run.

During the top of the second inning, TCU’s offense kept on moving the freight, with senior catcher Karson Bowen ripping an RBI single into center field, scoring freshman center fielder Chase Brunson to extend the lead to 2-0.

The next batter, Horned Frogs junior second baseman Brody Green, drove an RBI single through the left side of the infield and scored senior third baseman Luke Boyers to make it 3-0.

Myers came up to the plate as the batter was looking to nail the game’s fourth run for the Horned Frogs offense. He crushed an RBI single into left-center field, scoring Bowen for a commanding 4-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth inning, Myers continued his hot bat as he ripped a two-run RBI single up the middle into center field, scoring senior third baseman Luke Boyers and Brunson to extend the lead to 6-0 and did not look back the rest of the way.

Kansas State sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Jackson Wentorth gave up seven hits, six earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts to the mighty Horned Frogs offense.

Kansas State senior first baseman Daniel Rivera ended the day by smacking one hit with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning after Wildcats junior center fielder Brendan Jones launched a solo home run over the right-center field wall.

Rivera had three at-bats with a walk and a strikeout during their elimination loss at the 2024 Big 12 Conference Tournament.

Jones ripped two hits in his three at-bats with one walk and one strikeout on Thursday.

Green kept his momentum at the plate rolling with an RBI single down the right field line, scoring Bowers in the top of the seventh inning.

Byrne added himself to the RBI club during Thursday’s win with a single to right field, scoring No. 119 Ranked MLBpipeline.com Top 150 Draft prospect sophomore shortstop Anthony Silva for the ninth and final game run in the top of the eighth inning.

Rodriguez came out in the bottom of the ninth inning in his third inning frame of work and got Kansas State catcher Raphael Pelletier to pop up to Silva for the final out of the game as the Horned Frogs knocked off the Wildcats 9-4 in the third day of the Big 12 Conference tournament.

Rodriguez finished the day throwing 3.2 innings out of the bullpen, allowed two hits and two walks, and struck out two while facing 14 batters.

The TCU pitching staff carried their strikeout momentum from yesterday after displaying 11 strikeouts, walking three batters, and allowing three earned runs against Oklahoma’s offense on Wednesday. Horned Frogs starting pitcher Parker Tolle struck out nine of the 11 batters from the Sooners offense on Wednesday to boost the TCU’s pitching staff coming into Thursday’s game.

Kansas State is ranked No. 41 in their RPI during the final week of the regular season and will have to wait until Selection Monday if they make the 64-team field of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

“I think there is a next week,”. Hughes told World Baseball Network during the post-game press conference. “Our resume speaks for itself with a full body of work and our strength-of-schedule, No. 1 strength of schedule in the Conference with unbalanced scheduling. I feel really good that we have a next week”. Kansas State’s record in conference is 15-16, with their overall record at 32-24 to finish the 2024 regular season.

TCU’s RPI is ranked at No. 40, and it still has a chance at attempting to win its fifth Big 12 Conference tournament and aiming for its second consecutive at Globe Life Field once it takes the field on May 24 against No. 7 seed Kansas at 1:30 p.m. EST on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

TCU is in contention for their fifth Big 12 Conference championship title since joining in 2013.

The Horned Frogs are 17-6 at Globe Life Field since the venue opened in 2020.

TCU must win two games on Friday to qualify for the 2024 Big 12 Conference Championship Game, which will be broadcast on ESPNU on Saturday, May 25, at 6 p.m. EST.

Selection Monday will be on May 27 with the 2024 NCAA Division I College Baseball Championship Selection Show on ESPN2 at noon EST.

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Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network
Matthew (Matt) Tallarini is the Founder and Chief Correspondent for the World Baseball Network.