NORMAN — Texas Christian University scored three runs in the top of the ninth — all with two outs — to rally past Oklahoma for a startling 6-5 win over the Sooners in the NCAA Regional Tournament Friday night at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman.
The loss spoiled a strong outing by Chuckie Caufield, who was instrumental in helping the Sooners erase a 3-0 TCU lead with five unanswered runs.
Caufield — an Ada High graduate — blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh that made it 5-3 and it looked like it would give OU ace Daniel McCutchen plenty of cushion for the victory.
And it almost did.
McCutchen struck out two of the first three TCU batters he faced in the top of the ninth and was an out away from a stellar, complete-game outing. But then things went awry.
After a brief meeting at the mound with head coach Sunny Golloway, McCutchen surrendered an RBI single to Corey Steglich which scored Keith Conlan, who had reached safetly on a one-out, bad-hope single to third base and scurried down to second on a wild pitch.
With TCU still trailing 5-4, Ryan Pack then tied the game with an RBI double off the top of the fence in left-center field that missed being a home run by a mere inches.
OU closer Will Savage then replaced McCutchen (8-8) to face the top of the TCU lineup. Bryan Kervine then hit a sharp single to right field that Caufield scooped up on the run. He fired a perfect strike to catcher Jackson Williams, but Pack slid home just underneath the tag to score what would turn out to be the winning run.
The Sooners (40-20) got the tying run aboard in the bottom of the ninth when Williams singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joseph Hughes. But TCU reliever Sam Demiel got Caufield to pop out to first in foul territory before Russell Raley flied out to left-center field to end the game.
The crowd of 2,838 and the Sooners were stunned.
“I’m still kind of shocked,” McCutchen said following the game
Added Golloway: “It it a tremendous disappointment? No question. We’ve just got to come back and fight through the loser’s bracket.”
The Sooners must now win three straight games to advance to the Super Regional.
Earlier in the day, Wichita State had edged Houston 2-1 in another first-round game in Norman. Play continued Saturday in the OU Regional with the championship game scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m.
Through eight and two thirds innings, McCutchen struck out 11 and had allowed just three runs before the TCU comeback.He had thrown 124 pitches entering the fateful ninth inning.
“My arm felt good. I had worked all year to be able to throw that many pitches,” he said.
The Horned Frogs (39-21) took a 3-0 lead afte four innings before OU scored four times in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Rohlinger’s two-RBI double was the big blow in the inning while Kevin Smith and an RBI single and Caufield had pushed across a run with a fielder’s choice. Caufield would finish 2-for-5 and was the only Sooner to score twice.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our players and the character they showed tonight,” said TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle. We lost a tough game here earlier this season ... It’s amazing how the game of baseball gives you opportunities to redeem yourself.”
TCU starter Jake Arrieta (14-4) struck out eight while working into the ninth inning for the Horned Frogs. Caufield’s infield hit in the third and Smith’s single in the fourth were the only two Sooner hits through four frames until OU collected four hits in its big fifth-inning volley.