Junior left-hander Travis Evans watched as Houston Baptist’s Jordan McCoy whiffed at his 1-2 offering for out number three in the eighth inning. The rest of the TCU defenders jogged to the dugout while Evans sprinted.
It was a good representation of what the TCU pitching staff did all night in the Frogs’ 13-0 victory over the Huskies: made innings quick.
“It’s huge,” senior right-fielder Dylan Fitzgerald said. “Shortening your time on defense, maximizing your time on offense.”
Junior right-hander Jordan Kipper started his eighth game of the season. He allowed only four hits and struck out seven over six shutout innings.
“Kipper did a great job,” TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
TCU (23-13, 7-5 Big 12) opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the second on a squeeze bunt from catcher Kyle Bacak and an RBI single off the bat of junior second-baseman Garrett Crain.
“Just hit hard groundballs and it’ll find a way through somewhere,” Crain said.
But that was just the beginning. In the fourth, the offense exploded.
A lead-off walk to junior designated hitter Kevin Cron and two singles from Fitzgerald and junior shortstop Keaton Jones loaded the bases with one out. Crain then smacked his second RBI single of the night.
A bases-loaded walk and a passed ball pushed across two more runs. A sacrifice fly from junior third-baseman Derek Odell tallied another before sophomore left-fielder Boomer White delivered the big blow: a 2-run double to the left field corner. White’s .379 average coming into the game leads the Big 12.
“Once one guy starts hitting, the next guy starts hitting,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a catalyst thing.”
Kipper made sure the Frogs wouldn’t have to wait long to pick the bats back up. He needed only seven pitches to retire three HBU batters in order in the top of the fifth.
“When he’s throwing strikes and the innings are short when you’re on defense, it’s huge,” Fitzgerald said.
The Frogs picked up right where they left off in the bottom half of the inning. Junior first-baseman Jerrick Suiter led off with a double to left-center, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on an RBI groundout from Fitzgerald.
Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases for junior center-fielder Cody Jones, who lined an 0-2 pitch past the diving HBU third-baseman to score Keaton Jones. A bases-loaded walk to Odell pushed across the Frogs’ third run of the inning.
Two more runs in the seventh cemented the Frogs’ 13-0 advantage.
The massive lead was good news for the Frogs’ taxed bullpen, which took over for Kipper in the seventh. Freshman Brian Howard, Evans, and redshirt freshman Brian Trieglaff each worked a quick inning.
“It kinda went exactly as we had hoped in terms of getting Kipper his work and throwing three guys that needed to pitch and not having to use guys that have been pitching a lot,” Schlossnagle said.
The TCU pitching staff will have to continue to be the cornerstone for the offense. The Frogs take on the Texas Longhorns this weekend in Austin, who lead the Big 12 in team ERA and sit atop the conference with a 9-3 conference record.
“The Texas series is a real test for what kind of team we are,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re obviously a strong team. But we’re on a roll now too, so it’ll be interesting.”
The first game of the three-game set begins Thursday at 6 p.m. in Austin.