Oklahoma's six-run second inning clinches regional
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma pitcher Daniel McCutchen stood on the mound at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Monday night and fought two battles.
The first was with Wichita State in the championship game of the Norman Regional. The second was with his own mind. He won both as Sooners scored six second-inning runs and held on for a 7-6 victory over the Shockers.
The Sooners, who lost their first-round game to Texas Christian on Friday, beat Houston, TCU and Wichita State twice in three subsequent days to claim their first regional title since 1995, a season in which they reached the College World Series.
Oklahoma (44-20) also hadn't won four straight NCAA tournament games since 1995. The Sooners will play at Rice later this week in the tournament's super regional round. Rice beat the Sooners 8-2 on Feb. 17 in Houston but Oklahoma routed the Owls 15-3 on April 18 in Norman.
Since 1999, Wichita State (46-22) has reached the regional championship round on three occasions and lost each time.
"All we needed was a break here and there and we didn't get it," Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said. "That's just the way it fell."
McCutchen pitched threw 5 2/3 innings of relief Monday to get the win and improve to 9-8. His performance came less than three days after he threw 8 2/3 innings in Oklahoma's first-round loss to TCU. McCutchen took the loss in that game, marking the fourth time he lost a game in the final inning.
"I got that monkey off my back and threw it a long ways," McCutchen said. "He's off my back for good now."
Joseph Hughes, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, hit a two-run single and Chuckie Caufield hit a three-run homer to ignite OU's second-inning outburst. All the runs came with two outs.
Wichita State starter Rob Musgrave (6-3) lasted only 1 2/3 innings. However, the Shockers' bullpen stopped the bleeding. Anthony Capra, Matt Smith, Damon Sublett and Noah Booth held the Sooners scoreless until the eighth.
That's when Oklahoma picked up what proved to be a huge insurance run on Russell Raley's RBI single, which scored Hughes.
Wichita State's Noah Krol, who went 3-for-4 three RBIs, drove in Brian Spear with a double in the bottom of the third inning and Conor Gillaspie singled home Krol.
The Shockers added two more runs with on Spears' two-run single in the sixth inning and Krol narrowed the gap to 7-6 with a two-run home run with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. It was only Krol's second home run of the season.
After Krol's home run, Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway went out the to the mound for a visit. But he elected to leave the game in McCutchen's hands.
One out later, Josh Workman singled, and he went to third base on Gillaspie's bad-hop single. But Derek Schermerhorn hit into a force play, ending the Shockers' season.
"He was still strong and still wanted to pitch," Golloway said of his decision to leave McCutchen in the game. "But the main reason was after all he'd been through he deserved to be under that dogpile."
Oklahoma is the second state team to reach the final 16 of the NCAA tournament. Oral Roberts of Tulsa earned a spot opposite Clemson by beating Oklahoma State on Sunday night in the title game of the Fayetteville Regional.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press