Bradley, Jr.'s big night propels USC

Jackie Bradley, Jr. provided three hits and three RBIs including a two-run home run as South Carolina defeated Cal State Bakersfield 5-1 in game one of a three-game series Friday night at Carolina Stadium. Bradley, Jr. is now hitting .404 with 4 home runs and 12 RBIs on the season. Michael Roth pitched 8 innings without giving up an earned run for his fourth win of the season.

In a word Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s night was special.

The future first rounder not only went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored but mesmerized the 6,505 fans in attendance with outstanding defensive play including a running grab in left center that he reached out and snatched before crashing into the fence at full speed.

"When you do come off the emotion that we came off of it's not an easy thing," head coach Ray Tanner said referencing the Clemson series. "It was a lot cooler; it was set up to be a difficult night and then you've got (Mike) McCarthy out there who's good.

"It wasn't easy, but our guys were focused and prepared. We didn't get as many hits as they did. But Roth gave us a nice opportunity to win and of course, Jackie did it with his bat and his glove. That was a very special performance."

The performance overshadowed what was another quality outing from Michael Roth, who did what he's done all season so far and put his team in a position to win. Roth worked 8 innings and scattered just 5 hits while striking out 9 to tie a career high.

"He's been outstanding. He's done everything he can do as a starter," Tanner said. "The one good thing is his fastball is better at this point than I've expected it to be. He can get in the upper 80s pretty consistently now. His change-up is good. He's difficult to get to, and he'll field his position. He's doing a nice job for us and he's giving us a chance to win."

Roth's outing and Bradley, Jr.'s play was enough to defeat Cal State Bakersfield starter Mike McCarthy. McCarthy took the loss despite giving up just one hit, a first-inning double, to all Gamecocks not named Bradley, Jr.

"We knew that Bakersfield was going to be very good based on what they've done to this point in the season," Tanner said. "We had a couple days to talk about it and get ready for it since we were rained out on Wednesday. They were very impressive to me. McCarthy, their pitcher tonight was very good. It was difficult to get runs. That goodness Jackie Bradley Jr. had a great game for us offensively and defensively."

McCarthy gave up 4 runs, but only 2 were earned as his defense failed him with 2 errors.

The Gamecocks had their own fielding troubles in the first when Peter Mooney booted the first batted ball of the game and then made a bad throw to first. After a bunt and in-field hit the Roadrunners owned an early 1-0 lead.

After an Adam Matthews double in the bottom half of the inning, Bradley, Jr. started his big night by lining a single up the middle for an RBI.

McCarthy appeared to strand Bradley, Jr. at second base when he got Brady Thomas to pop up towards shallow left. But the shortstop overran the ball and it landed in the grass allowing Bradley, Jr. to score.

From there, the pitchers went to work as Roth retired 13 in a row at one point and McCarthy gave up just a Bradley, Jr. double until his defense got him in trouble again in the fifth.

Another error on the shortstop put Matthews on before Bradley, Jr. went opposite field to left and over the wall to put the Gamecocks up 4-1.

The Gamecocks' star center fielder again made his presence felt in the seventh inning. After Martin Medina led off the inning with a single and Ryan McIntyre struck out, DC Legg lined a pitch to deep left center field setting the stage for Bradley, Jr. to make his highlight-reel grab.

"I was actually playing right-center a little bit," Bradley, Jr. said describing his positioning before the pitch. "They were staying back on the ball pretty well and hitting the ball to the opposite field. He got a tad bit of loft under it and I was able to track it down.

"It was one of those balls where you just turn around and run to the spot. That's what I was able to do. I caught it right before I hit the fence. It was so simultaneous that I didn't have time to react. I knew where I was on the track, and I was able to make a play."

Tanner pointed out that the next batter got a base hit meaning the play likely saved two runs.

The Gamecocks added one more run in the 8th when Thomas tripled to left on another misplayed ball and was then allowed to score on a passed ball on a strikeout.

John Taylor gave up a double but no runs in the ninth to finish off the Roadrunners.

South Carolina and Cal State Bakersfield face each other again Saturday with game two of the series starting at 4 p.m. Steven Neff will get the start on the mound for the Gamecocks.

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