South Carolina Wins Second Baseball National Title
Michael Roth was an unexpected hero in South Carolina's march to its first College World Series title. This season, as a proven star in the Gamecock lineup, the senior southpaw delivered again on the biggest stage.
South Carolina closing pitcher Matt Price celebrates after South Carolina beat Florida 5-2 in Game 2 of the NCAA baseball College World Series to win the title in Omaha.
University of South Carolina
Roth pitched into the eighth inning Tuesday to lead fourth-seeded USC to a 5-2 victory over No. 2 Florida and a sweep of their best-of-three championship final, ensuring that the Gamecocks would not only be the last team to celebrate a title at iconic Rosenblatt Stadium, but the first to lift the trophy in new $131 million TD Ameritrade Park.
Roth started three of South Carolina's five games in Omaha and although Tuesday night was his first decision, his numbers were off the charts. In 22 innings, he had an earned run average of 1.23 while holding hitters to a .178 batting average.
Roth was taken in the third round of this month's major league draft by Cleveland, but said any professional decisions will have to wait a bit.
Roth keyed a Gamecock pitching performance that made them only the fifth school in 65 years to post an ERA under one run in the CWS (0.88).
Behind the numbers
South Carolina became the sixth school to win back-to-back championships when it swept Florida in the best-of-three finals at the College World Series. A look at this year's competition by the numbers:
0 -- Earned runs allowed by South Carolina's bullpen in 19 innings over five games. The Gamecock relievers were 4-0.
.239 -- Cumulative batting average for the eight teams, lowest since 1974, the first year of aluminum bats.
0.88 -- ERA for South Carolina's staff in Omaha, the lowest since Arizona State (0.72) in 1972. Only five teams have had ERAs less than 1.00.
1 -- Home runs by the Gamecocks, the lowest total for a champion since Ohio State in 1966 hit none.
11 -- Consecutive CWS victories for South Carolina, an NCAA record. The old mark was shared by Southern California (1972-74) and LSU (1996-98).
16 -- Consecutive postseason victories for South Carolina, another NCAA record, passing the bar Texas set in 1983-84. 33 -- Sacrifice bunts, most since 1955.
26,721 -- Attendance for the final championship series game, largest in the CWS' 65-year history.
South Carolina (55-14) won Tuesday without the drama it has made its hallmark in Omaha the last two years, winning four extra-inning games. The Gamecocks took advantage of a costly Florida error to take a 3-0 lead in the third inning and never lost that advantage.
Peter Mooney added a solo homer in the sixth and Scott Wingo, the tournament's most outstanding player, singled in another insurance run in the eighth. The senior second baseman drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning in South Carolina's opening game against Texas A&M and delivered a game-saving defensive play in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday against Florida.
"South Carolina earned this one," said Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "They made all the plays and were a little bit better than us in all phases."
South Carolina set the record for consecutive NCAA tournament victories with 16, passing Texas' mark set in 1983-84. Its 11 consecutive wins in the CWS topped Southern California (1972-74) and LSU (1996-98). The Gamecocks are the sixth school to win back-to-back championships.
"It's hard for me to understand it all right now. I have to let it sink in for awhile," said USC coach Ray Tanner. "We never thought we were an awesome team but we always believed we had a chance to win.
"We've been in so many close games down the stretch and we've been a little lucky, too. Let's win the next game was how I thought and these guys really understood that."
Florida (53-19) lost four of five games against South Carolina this season. The Gators made back-to-back appearances in Omaha for the first time in school history and advanced to the finals unbeaten after going 0-2 in last year's competition.
"It's nice to make steps, but to be honest, the idea is to win this thing," O'Sullivan said. "There are a lot of disappointed players in our locker room. We're going to be back here. We want to finish thing off."
Catcher Mike Zunino, the Southeastern Conference player of the year who homered doubled and singled Tuesday night, said reaching the finals was small consolation.
"We got a taste last year but it was a bad taste and the feeling is the same," Zunino said. "We made great strides but unless you win it all you're always going to have that hollow feeling."
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