Michael Roth has pitched in plenty of big games during his South Carolina career, but Thursday’s complete-game win over Kent State (4-1) marked only the second time that he has taken the mound with his team facing elimination from the NCAA Tournament. The senior lefthander – now 8-0 in NCAA decisions (4-0 at the College World Series) – was more than up to the challenge, facing only 28 batters (one over the minimum) while keeping his team’s season alive in a briskly-moving game that covered only 2:07.
(Note – postgame links and Thursday’s full schedule included below) … postgame video coming later today.
South Carolina (47-18) – seeking to become the second program ever to win three consecutive NCAA Division I baseball titles (Southern California, a.k.a. “the other USC,” won five straight, from 1970-74) – now must return to TD Ameritrade Park on Thursday night for the bracket-final stage vs. surging Arkansas (8 CT). If the national 8th-seeded Gamecocks win, those teams will play again on Friday (time TBA) to determine one of the participants in the best-of-3 championship series.
Roth retired the final 22 batters he faced, struck out eight, yielded no walks and allowed only a pair of hits (both in the 2nd, when the Flashes scored their only runs). The 106-pitch win makes the South Carolina ace 9-1 this season and 26-6 during his college career, including 10-1 in all postseason action (2-1 at the SEC Tournament).
Kent State (47-20) – which a couple days earlier had become the first Midwest team since Notre Dame in 2002 to win a CWS game – was unable to ride the momentum of its stunning elimination-game victory vs. the top national seed, Florida. The Golden Flashes, a #3 regional seed, had earned their trip to Omaha after winning the Gary Regional (getting past host Purdue and the regional’s 2-seed Kentucky) before winning the Super-Regional series at national 5-seed Oregon.
CB360 Exclusive: Roth Adds To Big Game Legacy
Postgame video interview with Roth located lower on page.
Sophomore righthander Tyler Skulina – who began his career in 2010 at Virginia, then sat out in 2011 due to transfer rules – suffered only his third loss of the season (11-3), after allowing four runs on six hits and four walks during 5.2 innings (9 Ks). The top three batters in the Kent State order, Evan Campbell, Jimmy Rider and David Lyon, all went hitless vs. Roth (0-for-10), with four strikeouts.
Singles by George Roberts and Sawyer Polen had given Kent State the lead to open the 2nd inning, but South Carolina immediately answered with four hits and a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. RBI singles from bottom-of-the-order standouts Grayson Greiner and Chase Vergason chased home Kyle Martin and Adam Matthews for the 2-1 lead.
South Carolina tacked on two insurance runs in the 3rd … but this was a day when Roth needed no more offensive support. Christian Walker’s 2-out doubled preceded LB Dantzler’s 10th home run of the season, as the SC third baseman turned on a 1-0 pitch and drove the ball over the rightfield fence.
CLICK HERE for postgame video interviews from Thursday’s three games.
Thursday, June 21
Game 11 – 4 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN3)
Arizona 10-15-0 … elim. Florida State 3-11-4
… Final Stats: HTML & PDF | AZ Recap | FSU Recap | AP Recap | Quotes (AZ) | Notes (FSU)
Photos (AZ) | Photos (FSU) | Video Highlights
Game 12 – 8 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN3)
South Carolina 2-8-0 … def. Arkansas 0-3-1
… Final Stats: HTML & PDF | SC Recap (w video) | ARK Recap | AP Recap
Photos (SC) | Photos (ARK) | More Photos (SC) | Video Highlights
note: Wins by Florida State or South Carolina would force rematch/decisive games for the bracket champions (on Friday, June 22; times TBA). Arizona and Arkansas can advance to the championship series with wins later today.