USC cleared its first hurdle Thursday afternoon as it began what it hopes will be a three games in 36 hours run to the College World Seres championship round.
Behind another brilliant start from Michael Roth, the Gamecocks dispatched Kent State 4-1 in an elimination game that was postponed by rain Wednesday night. Roth gave up a run in the second innning, then retired the next 22 batters he faced to earn his second win of this College World Series. Only five of the final 22 outs were hit in the air.
It’s Roth’s third career complete game, two of those were here in Omaha. The win also keeps Roth unbeaten in NCAA Tournament play. He is 8-0 all time in his NCAA postseason starts.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner and Michael Roth post game press conference [10:52]
AUDIO: Kent State coach Scott Stricklin [3:04]
The USC hitters didn’t make Roth pitch from behind long. After giving up the go-ahead run in the top of the second, the Gamecocks grinded out two runs on four singles in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead. Grayson Greiner and Chase Vergason had the run scoring hits.
LB Dantzler gave the Gamecocks a cushion, crushing an 89 MPH fast ball off Kent State starter Tyler Skulina deep into the right field blechers. The two run shot was Danztler’s 10th homer of the season.
That pitch to Dantzler was one of the few mistakes for Skulina. Despite his troubles with two outs, he still struck out nine, the most Ks for any pitcher in this year’s CWS. The Gamecocks left the bases loaded in the fifth, and left two on in the sixth, but Roth made sure that did not come back to haunt his team.
Roth has started more games in the College World Series than any other pitcher (seven) he has thrown more innings than any other pitcher in CWS and is the all-time leader in ERA with a 1.51 career mark in Omaha.
AUDIO: Michael Roth [3:21]
AUDIO: Ray Tanner [5:04]
USC’s day isn’t over and its road to a third straight title is up hill. At 9:00 tonight the Gamecocks will face SEC West rival Arkansas in a do or die game. Arkansas has been resting since its 2-1 win over USC Monday night. If the Gamecocks can pull out a win tonight they will play the Razorbacks again tomorrow night with a trip to the championship series on the line.
USC will be the vistors and will send out freshman lefthander Jordan Montgomery. He is 5-1 with a 4.05 ERA. He will be opposed by lefthander Randall Fant who is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
Carolina woke up this morning needing three wins in 36 hours. Now it’s one down, two to go.