Jordan Kipper may have had a learning curve early in his first season with TCU, but the right-handed pitcher is a quick study.
The junior transfer from Central Arizona College held Dallas Baptist to four hits in eight innings as the Horned Frogs beat the Patriots 7-1 Tuesday night at Horner Ballpark.
It was TCU’s season-high fifth consecutive win and Kipper’s longest outing of the season. He tied his season high with eight strikeouts using an effective slider aided by a fastball he kept down in the zone most of the night. He didn’t allow a walk for the first time since his first start against Northern Colorado on Feb. 18. Tyler Alexander pitched a perfect ninth to close it out.
“When the defense plays like they’ve been playing the last four or five games, as a pitcher, you don’t have to be so fine out there,” said Kipper, who improved to 4-2. “You can pitch over the plate a little bit more knowing they’re back there making plays.”
The defense was particularly solid Tuesday. Infielders Keaton Jones and Garrett Crain both made nice plays behind Kipper and catcher Kyle Bacak picked off a base runner at first, his fourth of the season.
“That’s about as complete a game as we can play,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Kipper was outstanding. He never lost his composure. We executed at home plate and got some big, two-out hits to extend the lead and made some outstanding defensive plays, especially Crain at second base.”
Former Crowley High School pitcher Drew Smith (2-2) pitched well for the Patriots (23-9). He had a career-high seven strikeouts but left after five innings trailing 3-1.
Leadoff hitter Cody Jones reached on an infield single to shortstop, stole second and later scored on Boomer White’s bunt single to give TCU a 1-0 lead in the first.
Jones walked with one out in the third and scored on White’s single to right. Derek Odell also reached on an infield single and scored on a double steal for a 3-0 lead.
TCU added a pair of runs in the seventh and ninth innings. The top of the order — Jones, Odell and White — went a combined 7-for-12 and six RBIs.
“We’ve been playing hard and things are finally coming together and we’re able to play loose and once you can play loose the game becomes really fun,” said Jones, who has reached based in 11 consecutive games, including a five-game hit streak.
TCU (20-12), which didn’t win its 20th game a year ago until April 28, begins a three-game series at Kansas (21-12) on Friday night.