Remember when I said that Oklahoma's pitchers need to be prepared to carry the team when they face an opposing hurler who limits the Sooner offense. That was precisely the situation OU was in during the opening game of the USD tournament.
(Hat Tip To JTE For Initially Posting This As A Fan Shot)
Oklahoma struggled to produce any offense until the top of the fourth when Cameron Seitzer knocked in Max White with a single. Ironically enough White reached base by being hit on a pitch from San Diego State's Steven Moranda who had pretty much matched Oklahoma's Michael Rocha pitch for pitch to that point.
Before hitting White to start off the fourth inning Moranda had retired eight Sooner batters through the first three innings. Jack Mayfield was the only Sooner to reach base through the first three innings but was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Moranda held Oklahoma at bay through the next three innings but ran into some more trouble in the eighth. He started out strong by getting Garrett Buechele to fly out but Cameron Seitzer came up next and doubled to center field. Tyler Ogle came up next and hit a single to left field which advanced Seitzer to third but then a fielding error allowed him to score. Cody Reine then knocked in Ogle on a triple to end Moranda's night. That was also the end of Oklahoma's scoring for the inning but the damage had been done and the way Rocha was pitching a 3-0 lead might as well have been 30-0.
Oklahoma scored one more run in the top of the ninth when Cale Ellis also reached base by being hit by a pitch. He then advanced around the bases on a series of throwing errors eventually allowing him to score, giving Oklahoma the winning margin of 4-0.
The story of the night for Oklahoma was Rocha who pitched a complete game shutout. He faced 32 batters allowing only five hits and no runs while striking out five batters. It was the exact type of performance i was describing the Oklahoma pitching staff as needing in my earlier post. However, to be honest I wish it was Bobby Shore or Burch Smith who provided it. Rocha has been solid in every start this season which is why he's 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA but Shore and Smith have struggled at times. Rocha seems to build confidence with each start and this was an outing that could make the season for one of these other guys.
Perhaps we'll see Shore and Smith get themselves their own confidence boosting performance over the weekend as well, Shore takes the mound today against San Diego and Smith tomorrow against #14 California.