NORMAN, Okla. -- The OU baseball team got a much needed victory on Thursday, 5-1, in the series opener over No. 5 (Collegiate Baseball) Nebraska at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Daniel McCutchen pitched a complete game, the first of his career, in which he allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out nine.
“Daniel was very strong tonight and he still had his stuff going in the 8th inning,” said head coach Larry Cochell. “His velocity was still strong in the late innings and that’s what you look for in a starting pitcher.
“This was a great win for us and a real boost at this point in the conference season. Now we need to go out these next two days and try to win this series.”
Chuckie Caufield and Joe Dunigan provided RBI singles in the second inning and that proved to be enough as the Cornhuskers managed to get their one run in the third frame.
McCutchen (2-3) got his first win since March 13, versus Northwestern State, in just his fourth start of the year and did so in front of a national television audience (ESPN). He is the first pitcher this season to throw a complete game against the Huskers and just the second Sooner this season to do so (Steven Guerra vs. Texas A&M).
McCutchen has now struck out 34 batters in the last 29.1 innings. That dates back to a relief appearance against Kansas and includes tonight’s complete game, five-plus innings against Missouri and a nine-inning affair versus No. 1 Texas. His ERA continues to drop and now stands at 4.44, after being as high as 13.03 back on March 6.
“It was nice to get the win for the team tonight,” said McCutchen. “I had better stuff at Texas but I threw the ball in the zone and got a lot of outs. The offense was huge tonight and that was a big key to the victory.”
The OU offense only pounded out nine hits, but in a timely fashion as Eric Thornton added two RBI and Kody Kaiser drove in the other run. The Sooners hit .556 (5-for-9) on Thursday with runners in scoring position.
Caufield was the only Sooner to record a multi-hit game with his two singles. Nebraska’s Joe Simokaitis led the way with a 2-for-4 game that included the club’s only RBI.
McCutchen outpitched one of the Big 12’s best in Joba Chamberlain, who was undefeated heading into today. Chamberlain (6-1) lasted 6.2 frames and was tagged for five runs, two earned, on six hits and four walks. The hurler, who ranks second in the conference in strike outs with 89, struck out six.
After Joe Simokaitis drove in the Huskers’ lone run in the third inning, the two went scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning. Kaiser’s RBI and Thornton’s two opened up the game as McCutchen managed to strike out three in the final two innings.
Thursday’s win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Sooners and improved them to 7-9 in conference action, putting them in a tie for sixth place with Texas Tech. OU improved to 23-18 overall and Nebraska fell to 35-9 and 10-6 in Big 12 play.
The series continues on Friday at 6 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park with OU’s Steven Guerra (4-4, 3.99 ERA) throwing opposite NU’s Zach Kroenke (4-2, 3.11 ERA). The game will be aired by ESPNU (DirecTV channel 609) with Gary Thorne calling the play-by-play and Kyle Peterson with the color analysis.