By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
FORT WORTH – TCU avoided the sweep on Sunday, as good pitching and timely hitting helped the Frogs to a 3-2 win over Florida State.
Cam Brown matched a career-high with nine strikeouts on the mound, as the junior pitched into the sixth inning, and freshman Kole Klecker (2-0) earned the win with four shutout innings out of the bullpen.
“The first 34 pitches from Cam weren’t very good, kind of that teeter-totter,” Saarloos said. “Did just enough, and kind of got rolling. I think the big thing for him is seeing himself being able to do that, and knowing he can do that from [the] first pitch, and not having to get backed into a corner.”
The first inning woes continued for Brown on Sunday, although it wasn’t entirely on him. Brown worked his way through the first two batters with just four pitches – a strikeout and a soft line out to shortstop – before the wheels started to shake.
A dropped line drive by Bishop extended the inning, and Brown responded by hitting a batter and walking the next three, plating two runners before a strikeout ended the inning.
Bishop’s error was the first of two errors by TCU on the day. The Frogs have now committed 14 errors through the first seven games of the season. That puts them on pace for 110 errors this season, which would be a shocking number.
TCU committed 48 errors total in the 2022 season.
Brown settled down after the first, working into the sixth inning and allowing just four base runners the rest of the way. His fastball touched 98 miles per hour, and he used a good combination of his slider and changeup to keep Florida State off balance.
A walk to lead off the sixth ended Brown’s day, but Klecker had it under control from there. The freshman righty pitched four innings of no-hit, shutout baseball, striking out five along the way to earn his second win this season.
“I think everything was working,” Klecker said. “Fastball, curveball, changeup. It felt good. I was kind of warming up early in the bullpen, and made sure to pace myself and make sure I was ready when I came in, and I thought I did that well. Just tried to execute pitches, and everything went well.”
Klecker has been impressive early on in his freshman campaign. The Chandler, Ariz. native has pitched 8 1/3 innings in this season, allowing just one earned run and striking out 11. He’s made a big impression on Saarloos, who hinted that a starting role could be in Klecker’s future earlier rather than later.
“He’s making things interesting,” Saarloos said. “We need to have guys out of that bullpen, but it’s going to be hard to keep that guy out of a starting role.”
It’s a good problem to have for Saarloos, who has had to rely on a lot of freshman arms early in the season.
Meanwhile, TCU did just enough at the plate on Sunday to get the win. The Frogs stranded 11 runners on base, but managed to work their way back from a 2-0 deficit.
TCU cut into Florida State’s lead in the fourth inning. Luke Boyers was hit by a pitch with one out, and advanced to second on a ground out off the bat of Tre Richardson.
David Bishop singled him home, bringing the score to 2-1 in favor of the Seminoles.
The Frogs took the lead for good in the seventh. Anthony Silva reached base for the fourth time on the day after being hit by a pitch, stealing second just moments later. A Brayden Taylor walk put two runners on for Kurtis Byrne, who singled to left field to score Silva and tie the game.
A Florida State throwing error extended the inning, and allowed Taylor to come around and give the Frogs a 3-2 lead, one they would not relinquish.
The Frogs head across the metroplex to take on Dallas Baptist. DBU is currently 7-0, and they’ve won five of the last six against TCU. LHP Braeden Sloan will get the start for the Frogs.
After the game Sunday, Saarloos noted that center fielder Elijah Nunez has cleared concussion protocol and will be available Tuesday. He also recognized that the Frogs haven’t had much success against the Patriots over the last few years.
“They’ve beat us I don’t know how many in a row now,” Saarloos said. “Coach Heefner does a good job. They always hit, and they always have guys with live arms. So we’re going to have to play really good, fundamental baseball to have a chance to win.”
Jamie Plunkett, email@example.com