Roth leads Gamecocks past Kent State
Making his record-tying seventh CWS start, Roth gave up a run in the second but little else as he pitched a complete game two-hitter and retired the final 22 batters he faced to lead Carolina to a 4-1 victory over Kent State in an elimination game Thursday afternoon.
"Roth was very special today," head coach Ray Tanner said. "He has been many, many times. Last night I told him we need you to stay out there for a long time. He picked a great time to give us a complete game and gave us a chance to rest in the bullpen. But a tremendous outing by Roth. And we get a chance to play again."
Thursday's game was originally scheduled to be played Wednesday night and the Gamecocks were planning to start freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery. But when heavy rain pushed the game to Thursday, allowing Roth another night's rest, Tanner couldn't bear the thought of going home with his ace sitting on the bench available.
"Really just going out and pounding the strike zone," Roth said of what was working. "I was able to hit the strike zone with pretty much every pitch I threw. That helped me a lot. I didn't have any walks today, which when there are base runners and you can stay on that roll, that I haven't really been able to get into this season much. So, it was nice to be able to throw everything for strikes."
With the win, the Gamecocks will face Arkansas tonight at 9 ET and need a win over the Razorbacks to force the if-necessary game against Arkansas on Friday night. A loss in either game would end the Gamecocks' season.
Montgomery is now the likely starter for tonight's game.
Kent State took a 1-0 lead on Roth in the second, when third baseman Sawyer Polen reached out an poked an outside pitch into left field to bring home George Roberts. Roth got the next batter to ground into a routine 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and didn't allow a base runner for the rest of the CWS record two-hour-and-seven-minute game.
"He's a strike-throwing machine," Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin said." Throws from different arm angles. You never know what pitch is coming. ... Once we scored, it's almost like we made him mad we scored that run in the second inning, and that's not happening anymore. He was outstanding. Didn't walk anybody. ...(He) just commanded the game. That's why he's an All American."
South Carolina answered the run with two of its own in the bottom of the second.
Adam Matthews singled through the left side with one out and designated hitter Kyle Martin followed him up with a sharp liner up the middle to put runners at first and second.
After Tanner English struck out, Grayson Griener's grounder toward the third base bag skipped off the glove of a lunging Polen and rolled into shallow left field. Third base coach Chad Holbrook was sending Matthews the entire time and he beat the throw home due to the aggressive base running. Chase Vergason then singled to right to bring home Martin who also beat the throw.
Carolina added two more in the third when Christian Walker's two-out double to right center kept the inning going. LB Dantzler then blasted the Gamecocks' first homer of the CWS to deep right field as he turned on the inside pitch and belted it over the visitor's bullpen.
No Carolina hitter had more than one hit but seven different players had a hit a piece.
Kent state starter Tyler Skulina took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits and four walks in 5.2 innings of work as the loss ended the Golden Flashes' season.
Those four runs were enough and then some for Roth who struck out eight and gave up just the lone earned run. Most importantly, he didn't walk a batter.
"It has been the best command that I've had in a long time. So that's nice," Roth said. "Whenever I'm getting behind, you have to start putting balls in the zone and letting them hit it, where I like guys that swing at some pitches that are more my pitches."
With the win Roth is now 4-0 in his career at the CWS and holds a 1.34 ERA. He has pitched a record 53.2 CWS innings.
Roth, who said Tanner told him Wednesday night that he needed nine innings and about 105 pitches from him, threw 106 pitches and kept the Gamecocks' bullpen completely rested.
That means Tanner and pitching coach Jerry Meyers will have the full pen at their disposal tonight including Tyler Webb, who Tanner says assured him he "felt great" today.
Junior lefty Randall Fant will start for Arkansas tonight. Fant has pitched in 14 games, including 13 starts, and is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Fant hasn't allowed a run in his last 12.1 innings of work.
The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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