USC’s defending national champion baseball team is a victory away from a second straight trip to the College World Series after defeating Connecticut 5-1 Saturday night at Carolina Stadium. A sellout crowd of better than 8200 fans watched the Gamecocks take the first game of the Super Regional. Game two will be Sunday night at 7:00 PM.
Michael Roth pitched into the 9th inning for the Gamecocks and earned his 13th win. Roth did not give up an earned run and lowered his ERA to 1.02. He’s gone 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Roth, a 31st round pick in last week’s draft, got the better of UConn’s first round draft pick Matt Barnes.
Barnes lasted just 4.1 innings against the Gamecocks matching his outing in the loss to Coastal Carolina last week in the Clemson regional. Barnes allowed 8 hits and 5 earned runs as he falls to 11-5 on the season.
The Huskies scored their only run in the first. George Springer singled and went to second as Evan Marzilli mishandled the ball in center for an error. He scored on a single by Mike Nemeth.
An excellent defensive play by first baseman Christian Walker saved the Gamecocks a run in the 2nd. Nick Ahmed reached on a throwing error by shortstop Peter Mooney taking second on the throw. He went to third as Doug Elliott grounded back to the pitcher. A walk to Mike Friel put runners on the corners with one out. Billy Ferriter then bunted to Walker who fired a strike to catcher Robert Beary to get the tag on Ahmed for the second out. Roth then got a fly ball to center by LJ Mazilli to end the inning.
Roth also benefited from standout defense in the third. Adrian Morales made a diving stop of a hard hit ball down the third base line by Springer to start a 5-4-3 double play. Roth retired Nemith next to end the inning.
The Gamecocks tied the game in the third. Marzilli doubled with two outs and Scott Wingo singled him in.
The Gamecocks used some two out offense again in the fourth to take the lead for good. Jake Williams walked and went to third on a single by Peter Mooney. He later scored on a wild pitch by Barnes.
The fifth proved to be the deciding inning as the Gamecocks batted around and scored three times. Steven Neff led of with a double and went to third when Ferriter mishandled the ball in left for an error. With one out, Wingo singled him home for his second RBI of the game. He later scored on a single by Walker. Walker then stole second and scored on a single by Brady Thomas.
Working with a 5-1 lead, Roth kept the Huskies at bay. His only real trouble came in the 7th. Elliott led off with a single but was wiped out in a 4-6-3 double play. Ferriter then singled and went to third when Mazilli followed with a single. But Roth induced John Andreoli to hit a grounder to Wingo at second who threw him out to end the inning.
Roth was lifted in the 9th with one on, due to an error, and one out. John Taylor came in and got a pair of grounders to Wingo at second to end the game.
Roth scattered 6 hits. He struck out 2 and walked 3 in his 119 pitch outing.
The Gamecocks improved to 49-14 and Connecticut drops to 45-19-1. Sunday, Connecticut will start lefthander Greg Nappo, the winning pitcher in last Monday’s decisive game in the Clemson regional. USC will start righthander Colby Holmes.
(Coach Jim Penders, Matt Barnes, Mike Nemith, George Springer)
(Coach Ray Tanner, Michael Roth, Scott Wingo, Christian Walker)