OMAHA, Neb. - Senior Michael Roth continued his College World Series dominance pitching his first complete game of the season in a 4-1 victory over Kent State on Thursday afternoon. The Gamecocks (47-18) will now face Arkansas at 9 p.m. tonight on ESPN2 to keep their national championship hopes alive.
Senior Michael Roth
South Carolina has to win three games in 33 hours to advance back to the national championship series. With the early afternoon win, there are two wins left to go.
Roth, who now has a career earned run average of 1.51 in Omaha, Neb., set a record for College World Series starts in a career with seven. Even though the Golden Flashes were able to score an early run and stake a second-inning lead, Roth proved to be masterful - again - on the mound at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
“Roth was very, very special today and he has been many times,” Tanner said. “I told him last night we need him to stay out there a long time. He gives us a chance to rest in the bullpen. A tremendous outing by Roth and we get a chance to play again.”
The senior, who potentially pitched the last game of his career in a South Carolina uniform, tossed his third career complete game allowing one earned run on two hits and no walks. He struck out seven in his 106-pitch outing.
Roth retired the last 22 hitters of the game and recorded the final 23 outs without allowing a base runner.
“I really just went out and pounded the strike zone,” Roth said. “I was able to hit the strike zone with every pitch I threw. I was able to stay on that roll I haven’t been able to get into this season much.”
Kent State actually jumped on the board first when Sawyer Pullen dropped an RBI single to left field in the top of the second inning.
“He’s a strike throwing machine, throws from different arm angles, and you never know what pitch is coming,” Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin said. “The thing about Michael Roth is he has so much experience. When we scored, it was almost like we made him mad and that wasn’t happening anymore. He just commanded the game. That’s why he’s an All-American.”
South Carolina jumped on Kent State starter Tyler Skulina early going for a pair of runs in both the second and third innings with all four runs coming with two outs. Freshman Grayson Greiner, making his first start of the NCAA Tournament, and junior Chase Vergason both knocked run-scoring singles in the second inning.
After Roth worked a clean top half of the third, there was more two-out magic in the bottom half of the inning. Junior Christian Walker shot an opposite field double to the wall in right center bringing up Dantzler, who launched a 1-0 pitch over the bullpen in right field for the Gamecocks’ first home run of the College World Series.
That was enough run support for Roth, who wasn’t going to start on the mound if the game had been played on Wednesday night. Tanner wanted to give Roth’s arm an extra day of rest and when the rains game, the decision to put Roth on the mound in the morning against Kent State was an easy one.
“You can’t play games like that,” Tanner said of holding Roth for Arkansas. “He’s our best guy and had an extra days rest. He’s going to give us a chance to win and that’s how you have to approach it. The only question I had was not if he was going to pitch, but if he was 100 percent.”
When Roth said he was 100 percent, it was an easy decision.
In the third inning, Roth’s reached 47.1 innings pitched in the College World Series, which is a new record.
South Carolina was able to knock out Skulina in the bottom of the sixth inning after putting a pair of runners on with two down. Freshman Joey Pankake went down looking to end the inning and keep the Golden Flashes close. Skulina allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out nine Gamecocks in his 101-pitch outing.
The Gamecocks will now have a short break prior to tonight’s game against the Razorbacks.
“We have to go back, rest fast, and get ready to go again,” Tanner said.
South Carolina will take on Arkansas at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. The Gamecocks will send freshman Jordan Montgomery to the mound. The Razorbacks will counter with Randall Fant. The Gamecocks will be the visitors tonight against the Razorbacks.