TCU rallies past McCutchen, Sooners

TCU scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning off of starter Daniel McCutchen (pictured) to upset top-seeded Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night in Norman. The Sooners now face an elimination game against second-seeded Houston at 1 p.m. Saturday. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Norman, Okla. — Top-seeded Oklahoma watched as TCU rallied from two runs down with two outs to beat the Sooners, 6-5, in front 2,828 fans at L. Dale Mitchell Park in the opening round of the Norman NCAA regional Friday night.

Sooner senior ace Daniel McCutchen was battling hard going into the ninth inning. He had already thrown 125 pitches going into the ninth and given up three runs. However, he had settled down in the sixth, seventh and eighth to shutout the Horned Frogs and Coach Golloway decided to send him back out for the ninth with a 5-3 lead.

That move backfired as with two outs McCutchen gave up two runs, the final run with the Sooners clinging to a 5-4 lead on a two out, two strike double to nine-hole hitter Ryan Pack, which ended his night with 138 pitches thrown.

Closer Will Savage entered the game and immediately gave up an RBI single to leadoff hitter Bryan Kevin, which turned out to be the game-winning hit. On the play, senior rightfielder Chuckie Caufield fielded the one-hop single and threw a strike to the plate, but sophomore catcher Jackson Williams couldn't block the plate as Pack slid head-first between his legs for the game winning run.

"I thought it was a well played college baseball game. TCU did what we all knew they would and that is fight all the way though it," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway following the game. "We have said this all along, and that is sometimes you have to tip your cap. They got the hits when they needed to late in the ballgame. I was really proud of the way we fought back and took the lead and Daniel was really pitching well. He did a terrific job competing for us today.

"Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. You can throw the same pitch sometimes and a guy will line it off the wall, and you can throw that same pitch again and they end up popping it up. That is just baseball.

"We are just awfully thankful that the NCAA Tournament is a double-elimination tournament. We have a lot of fight in us and we are going to come back tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. and give our very best effort."

McCutchen was one pitch away from getting out of the jam before giving up the game-tying double, but the Sooner coaching staff never thought about pulling the senior at that point even with his high pitch count.

"Daniel has been a warrior for us and he has done a good job all year," said Golloway. "With our starting pitching it is real simple. McCutchen is our best arm and Steven Guerra is clearly our No. 2 starter. We have been hot and cold with the rest of those guys all year. There is no secret about our pitching staff, so we made the right decision. We led the Big 12 in hitting, we led the nation in defense, but we were 10th in pitching.

"Our bullpen hasn't been everything that we wanted it to, but we still have confidence in them. If we had a guy who had gone out and not had any blown saves and done a lot of things for you, I think we probably would have gone to the bullpen earlier. But today with Daniel being a senior we stuck with him. He has been a terrific warrior and he was one out away from victory. I am going to give him that opportunity every time, because of what he has meant to our program. I know Daniel wanted the ball right there."

The Sooners trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth and struggling against TCU ace Jake Arrieta. But in the bottom of the fifth, the OU strung together four hits, the biggest of which was a two RBI double by senior Ryan Rohlinger and the Sooners put a four-spot on the board.

Caufield then added a solo shot in the seventh and things looked good for OU with a 5-3 lead. However, McCutchen and Savage couldn't hold the lead and the Sooners couldn't take advantage of a lead-off single by Williams in the bottom of the ninth. Joseph Hughes bunted him over to second, but Caufield popped up to first and senior Russell Raley flied out to center.

Oklahoma drops to 40-20 on the year, while TCU is 39-21. The Sooners now fall to the loser bracket where they will face the Houston, who lost a heartbreaker to Wichita State, 2-1, in the afternoon game of the regional. OU and Houston (39-21) will play at 1:00 p.m., while Wichita State (45-20) and TCU (39-21) match-up at 7 p.m.

The Sooners will start senior Steven Gurrra (10-3, 3.58 ERA) against the Cougars.

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