OMAHA, Neb. - When the sun came up on Monday morning in Omaha, the Gamecocks’ 13th day in America’s heartland, the team still needed two wins to claim its third straight national championship.
Tonight marks the final start for senior Michael Roth in his college baseball career
Senior Michael Roth will get the ball for South Carolina for the eighth time during his College World Series career. When he’s been the starting pitcher, the Gamecocks (49-19) haven’t lost in the College World Series.
South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner says nothing is going to change. In this, the team’s 69th game of the season, there’s little too change. He just wants his team to go out and execute.
“(Our approach) has been pretty good,” Tanner said, following the 5-1 loss to Arizona. “It got us here, so we’re not going t do anything different. The only thing I want to happen now is what these guys talked about and that is get over it. Let’s go back and regroup.”
Arizona, making its first College World Series appearance since 2004, got out to a quick start in Game 1 turning a crucial double play on defense in the first inning and Robert Refsnyder hit a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning.
Those two plays signaled a long night at the office for Tanner and the Gamecocks, but one win does not mean a trophy is hoisted.
“It’s not where we would want to be today but, you know, we’re still playing,” Tanner said. “You win tomorrow, you even it up and get a little momentum going into the third game.”
Arizona played a near-flawless game on Sunday night and South Carolina rarely had a chance to get back into the game. Sophomore Konner Wade pitched a gem and only one real rally - the seventh inning - was thwarted when a runner was thrown out at third base.
The Wildcats have won 10 games in a row, including sweeping through the NCAA Tournament, and are statistically the top team in pitching in the College World Series and second-best hitting team.
Freshman Grayson Greiner doubled and scored South Carolina's only run in Game 1 of the championship series
“Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not,” Tanner said. “They’re really, really good. But this is no time for woulda, coulda, shoulda. Let’s get back on the horse and win.”
Tanner and the Gamecocks will try to even the series and force a Game 3 tonight at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
Game 1 didn’t go in favor of South Carolina. Sophomore Konner Wade, who had two consecutive complete games entering Sunday night, made it three in a row in Arizona’s 5-1 victory over the Gamecocks, which puts the Pac 12 school one win away from the national title since Southern California won it all in 1998.
“Our captains gave us words of encouragement,” Greiner said. “They just told us they’ve been in this situation before and they know what they’ve got to do to get us back to Game 3.”
South Carolina has had its backs against the wall this College World Series. After sailing through in 2011 with a 5-0 record on their way to the title, the Gamecocks were sent to the losers bracket this year dropping their second game.
The team had to rally to win three games in 33 hours to put itself back in the championship series.
“There’s no feeling sorry for yourself after one loss,” junior Evan Marzilli said. “You have to go out there and forget about it real quick, especially in this series. That’s what we’ve got to do. There’s no thinking about it anymore.”
Behind enemy lines
Arizona head coach Andy Lopez left the door open after the win to going with someone besides ace Kurt Heyer in today’s potential championship-clinching game. The thought was he would go with Heyer on a day’s less rest, but the school announced on Monday morning that the Wildcats will go with right-hander James Farris, who hasn’t thrown in the College World Series.
Farris has been the team’s third starter this season and has thrown 99.0 innings in 16 appearances, all of which were starts. He pitched a complete game against Louisville in the Regional allowing two earned runs on 12 hits and seven strikeouts.
A sophomore, Farris pitched against Auburn, the only common opponent that Arizona and South Carolina share, on February 25 and allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings.
“We’ve talked about one in a row for six weeks now,” Lopez said. “That’s what we’ve talked about - one in a row. Let’s just go get one. (Sunday) night is over. It’s one with. You got to come out (tonight) and play good baseball.”
Things to do
Take a trip down to the historic Old Market area for some fine dining and neat shops but also walk just down the street to the Heartland of America Park and Fountain. The park has a 300-foot water jet and light show, Lewis & Clark Interpretive exhibits, WWII memorials, and a pedestrian bridge that connects to the Lewis & Clark Landing. Take a gondola ride down from the Old Market to visit the site located at 8th and Douglas Streets.
Voted one of Omaha’s “Best Of” in 2011, visit M’s Pub in the Old Market for lunch or dinner. Their website touts “Sociability, Charm, & Delectable Food” for burgers, sandwiches, and more. M’s Renowned Baked Dishes include shrimp scampi, but they’re also known for their Famous Lahvosh. If those items are too fancy for your palate, try the M’s Original, a sandwich with sliced roast beef or turkey with all the trimmings, artichoke-horseradish sauce on marbled rye bread.
***All times listed are Eastern***
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