NORMAN, Okla. -- Daniel McCutchen won his first decision in over a month and the No. 16 Sooners won their fourth straight game with a 6-4 victory over Missouri in the series opener on Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
OU used two, two-run singles by Kevin Smith and Ryan Mottern in the third inning to improve to 26-10 overall and 6-4 in Big 12 play. Missouri, who has lost seven straight, dropped to 16-16 and 6-7 in conference action.
For McCutchen (5-5), it was his first victory since March 10, also played at home against Centenary. In his last four starts prior to tonight, the Norman native had lasted seven or more innings in each outing and struck out a combined 34 batters, including a season-high 13 last weekend in College Station. Ironically enough on Friday, the Big 12’s second leading pitcher in strikeouts fanned three batters, his lowest strikeout total since the Sooners’ season opener on Feb. 3 against Texas State (two strikeouts).
“The two-out back-to-back RBI singles in the third inning were really big,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “I didn’t think Daniel had his A’ game tonight, but he competed and that is what we wanted to see out of him. Daniel showed us that he can compete on both sides of a game now. When we are down in a game, he can keep us in it and when we are up, he can keep them from scoring. He is special no doubt about it.”
The Sooners fell behind early after the Tigers posted a run in the first inning, but they rallied with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame and tallied four more in the bottom of the third inning.
Aaron Ivey helped OU increase its cushion to five runs by driving in Freddy Rodriguez, who tripled two batters earlier, in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Despite three Missouri runs in the eighth inning, the OU bullpen held on and Will Savage recorded his seventh save of the year. Four different Tigers connected for two hits apiece as OU was outhit for just the 12th time this season. Missouri had 13 hits in the ballgame and OU, who had nine, improved to 5-7 when being outhit by the opposition in 2006.
Missouri’s Nathan Culp (6-4) lasted seven innings and gave up all six of OU’s runs. Culp surrendered nine hits and walked two Sooners, opposite two strikeouts.
Ryan Rohlinger led the Sooners in hits with two on the night, including a RBI single in the first inning to tie things up at one run apiece.
Oklahoma and Missouri will resume play with game two on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports Southwest (Cox channel 37) and will see OU’s Steven Guerra (8-1, 2.56 ERA) throw opposite Missouri’s Aaron Crow (0-3, 5.40 ERA).
Below is a look at the Big 12 standings after action on Friday: