NORMAN, Okla. -- For the second consecutive start, senior Daniel McCutchen (3-2) delivered a masterful performance in his first career complete-game shutout on Friday against UC Riverside at L. Dale Mitchell Park. With the 1-0 win, OU improved to 10-4 overall in its first extra-inning game of the season, while UC Riverside dropped to 9-6. The victory also improved the Sooners’ record to 4-3 against the Highlanders.
After nine scoreless innings, McCutchen continued to dominate the Highlanders with his sixth strikeout of the game to lead off the tenth inning. Once UC Riverside was sat down in order in the 10th frame, McCutchen had thrown 118 pitches and soon received the run support he and the rest of the Sooners were looking for. With the bases loaded and one out on the board, Ryan Mottern, who came in the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, singled to shallow right field and plated Ryan Rohlinger for the game-winning run.
“That guy (Simmons) was so good today and we knew that going in” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “We told our guys that this game was going to be a lot like going against the best arms in the Big 12. Luckily for us, McCutchen countered from our side and that is what we needed. Ultimately, we need to have tougher at bats and that was something we talked about on Tuesday and something that we will continue to harp on this season.”
McCutchen wasn’t the only starter who had success on Friday night, as UCR’s James Simmons (3-2) pitched seven strong innings with 10 strikeouts, the third time this season with that many punch outs. After throwing the same number of pitches as McCutchen, Simmons exited the game and gave way to Dan Runzler (2-1) who pitched the remaining 2 1/3 innings, only to allow the one run off three hits and a walk.
“I just prepare myself to go these long outings,” said McCutchen. “I felt good out there and I told (Aaron) Ivey that we better score in the next five innings because that might be all I have left after the tenth.
“I know when we face the Friday guys in the Big 12, this is what I am going to have to deal with. I have taken the responsibility of being our Friday guy. With that responsibility, you can’t be surprised if you don’t get run support. You have to be mentally tough enough to throw zeros up there and know that breaks will fall your way in the end.”
The last time McCutchen threw a complete game was against Nebraska last season. The Norman native struck out nine batters in that game and allowed one run to earn the victory. In his last two starts, McCutchen has pitched 18 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts with a 0.96 ERA.
The OU defense put together another solid performance behind its starter, turning four double plays. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in fielding percentage with a .988 mark.
Mottern was one of four Sooners to connect for a single base hit on Friday, while Ryan Rohlinger collected two of the team’s six hits. For UC Riverside, Brett Bigler was 2-for-4 and three other Highlanders had singles in the contest.
The series continues on Saturday at 3 p.m. and OU’s Steven Guerra (4-0, 3.04 ERA) is expected to get the starting nod opposite UCR’s Haley Winter (1-0, 5.19 ERA).