Roth guides Gamecocks to victory

Michael Roth pitched eight innings and gave up just one run and three hits as South Carolina defeated Kentucky 3-1 Friday night at Carolina Stadium. Matt Price picked up the save as the Gamecocks' move to 20-5 (5-2 SEC) on the season. Stay with Gamecock Anthem for the full story after the game.

South Carolina knew what it was up against in Kentucky starting pitcher Alex Meyer. The projected first round pick had electric stuff as always with a mid-90's fastball. But as he has been just about all season, Michael Roth was just a little bit better.

"There was a lot of pitching out there tonight," head coach Ray Tanner said. "That was two very impressive performances by two great pitchers. Meyer and Roth were both outstanding. ... Meyer was outstanding; he has a power arm and is very tough to get to. But I thought Roth battled, we played good defense and were able to make some plays."

The South Carolina starter moved to 6-1 on the season and has an ERA of just 1.44 after giving up just a third-inning run and three hits in eight innings. Roth also struck out six and walked one.

While Meyer eventually settled in, he was just wild enough early on for the Gamecocks to jump out to an early lead. Peter Mooney walked to lead off the game and then Scott Wingo, who was batting in the two-hole, was hit by pitch.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. then rifled a pitch into center field to put Carolina up 1-0. Christian Walker then grounded to short and reached on the fielder's choice as Wingo scored from third.

"It was very important to get some hits early," Bradley, Jr. said. "He's a great pitcher and we all know he's a flamethrower. We wanted to sit on his fastball and adjust to his curveball and I think we did that early. He has some nasty stuff and early on he wasn't able to locate it, he settled down after that so it was important to get those runs early."

Meyer would settle in and finish the game giving up just one more run in eight innings of work. He gave up six hits but walked five.

But those two early runs would be all Roth needed.

"We're real confident when Michael Roth even approaches the mound," Bradley, Jr. said. "But we've still got to hit [and] put up our share of runs. ... [But] every time Michael Roth is on the mound, you know you're going to get a quality start out of him. He's a great pitcher and he's got a lot of composure. I feel like every time he steps on the mound he's going to get it done."

Kentucky would add one run in the third inning on an RBI-single from Chad Wright. But Roth would give up just two hits the rest of the game and retired nine straight batters during a stretch that spanned the fourth to seventh innings.

"I didn't really change my approach, I just went out and doubled my focus," Roth said. "I was upset that I gave up the hit to the lefty, so I just went out and made some good pitches after that."

Mooney batted leadoff in the place of the injured Adam Matthews and hit his first career home run, a line drive to right that snuck over the wall and put Carolina up 3-1 in the fifth inning. Mooney was also exceptional in the field and made several tough plays look easy.

"It was big, we didn't have room for errors tonight," Tanner said. "Mooney had a couple of tricky hops and (Adrian) Morales had some tough plays too. Adrian knows what he's doing over there and those guys made big plays for us tonight no doubt about it. In a game like this you can't give them extra opportunities and those did a great job tonight."

All-American closer Matt Price gave up just a hit in a scoreless ninth to earn his seventh save of the season.

South Carolina and Kentucky will square off again Saturday in game-two of the series with Colby Holmes taking the mound for Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30.

Tanner also announced after the game that Forrest Koumas, who spent much of the week in the hospital after having an allergic reaction, will be Sunday's starter.

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