South Carolina’s reign atop the college baseball world will continue for another year. The Gamecocks successfully defended their national championship Tuesday night with a 5-2 victory over SEC East rival Florida at TD Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha. The Gamecocks swept the two game championship series and will return home Wednesday afternoon owning an NCAA record 16 game tournament winning streak. The Gamecocks conclude their season at 55-14, the Gators at 53-19.
Gamecock ace Michael Roth, pitching on three days rest for the first time all season, handcuffed the Gators thru 7.2 innings. He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs while striking out 6. He picked up his first win of the series in three appearances and improved his record to 14-3. Florida starter Karsten Whitson suffered his first loss of the season and is 8-1.
The Gamecocks broke on top in the third inning scoring three runs, two of which were unearned. Peter Mooney led off with a double to left and was sacrificed to third by Robert Beary. Evan Marzilli then walked to put runners on the corners. Scott Wingo got Mooney home with a sacrifice fly to right field with Mooney easily beating the throw home.
The inning continued asJackie Bradley Jr. followed with a walk. Christian Walker then hit a high chopper to short that Nolan Fontana badly misplayed for an error. Marzilli scored for second on the play to make it 2-0 and Bradley moved to third. He then scored on a slow infield grounder to the second baseman that Brady Thomas legged out for a base hit.
The Gators got a run back in the 4th as SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino led off with a home run into the left field bleachers. It was his 19th of the season and just the 8th hit in the CWS. And it was just the third homer off Roth this season, the first since April 22nd at Mississippi State.
The Gators had a threat brewing in the 5th getting the first two runners on. But Roth bore down and struck out Cody Dent trying to bunt the runners ahead and induced Nolan Fontana to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, the 9th double play the Gamecocks turned in the CWS.
USC threatened in the bottom of the inning loading the bases with two outs. Whitson was lifted after throwing 98 pitches. Tommy Toledo struck out Jake Williams swinging to end the inning.
Roth got in and out of trouble in the 6th. Fontana led off the inning with a walk and went to second on a Zunino single. Roth struck out Preston Tucker and then got the next two hitters to ground out to third and second respectively.
Peter Mooney made it 4-1 USC leading off the bottom of the 6th with his 4th home run of the season and the first for the Gamecocks in the CWS. His blast carried into the righfield seats.
In the bottom of the 7th, Walker led off with a single and after Thomas struck out, he went to third on a double of Adrian Morales. But Jake Williams struck out and Mooney grounded out to second to end the frame.
Florida cut into the lead in the 8th and finally got Roth out of the game. Zunino doubled to the wall in center with one out. Roth got Tucker to ground out to second. And after 127 pitches, he was pulled for John Taylor who made his 50th appearance of the season. It was a short one. He gave up an RBI single to Josh Adams to make it a 4-2 game. Exit Taylor. Enter Matt Price who struck out pinch hitter Tyler Thompson looking to end the inning.
The Gamecocks got that run right back in the bottom of the 8th. Robert Beary singled and was sacrificed to second by Marzilli. Wingo then hit a high chopper over the first baseman’s head for his second RBI of the night to make it 5-2 going to the 9th.
And in the ninth, Price set the Gators down in order to seal the victory. He earned his 20th save of the season. Wingo was named the CWS Most Valuable Player.