USC outduels Princeton

Michael Roth allows just a run in 8.2 innings pitched as the Gamecocks defeat Princeton 2-1 to move to 11-1 on the season. Freshman Evan Beal struck out his man for the final out to earn the save. DH Kyle Martin had three hits including a homer while Evan Marzilli tied a school record with three doubles.

It wasn't the finish that Michael Roth wanted. But he'll have to take it for now.

"Sorry #GamecockNation," he Tweeted after the game. "Saving the CG for the postseason!

The Gamecocks' senior All-American took a shutout into the ninth inning Friday night against Princeton, but couldn't quite finish off the complete game.

After finally giving up a run on a groundout to shortstop, Roth exited the game with the tying run on second and two outs. Freshman right-hander Evan Beal entered the game and struck out the lone batter he faced to earn the save and give South Carolina the 2-1 series-opening victory.

"It felt like a pretty normal night for me," Roth said. "I was just going out there and trying to mix and match pitches. I felt pretty good."

The victory was head coach Ray Tanner's 700th in a South Carolina uniform and Roth's second of the season.

The senior left-hander was masterful striking out a career high 10 batters while allowing just the one run and six hits.

"Roth did a tremendous job for us with the effort he gave us tonight and it was great to see Beal come in and get that final out," Tanner said.

South Carolina improves to 11-1 on the season while Princeton falls to 2-3.

Princeton starter Zak Hermans was effective and allowed just one run on five hits in five innings of work in the loss.

Though the Gamecocks had 10 total hits, six of those were by just two players combined and the Gamecocks struggled to piece together hits with runners on base.

Rather than be hard on his hitters, Tanner chose to credit the Princeton pitchers with making big pitches when they needed to.

"That game was much of what I expected it to be. I knew that Hermans was really good. ... We are very fortunate to be able to hang on there at the end, we had some run-scoring opportunities, maybe to get a few more and they were able to get big outs when they needed to."

Leadoff man Evan Marzilli set the table for Carolina all night and tied a South Carolina record with three doubles. Designated hitter Kyle Martin also tallied three hits including the game's lone home run.

Martin put the Gamecocks on the board in the fourth when he drove a 2-1 fastball over the right field wall for his first career collegiate home run. He admitted he didn't think it would get out of the park.

"I'm going up there trying to get hits, and that's about it," Martin said. "Just doing what I can to get on base."

The Gamecocks extended the lead to 2-0 in the sixth when Connor Bright's RBI single through the left side scored Adam Matthews. Bright was making his second straight start at shortstop in the place of Joey Pankake, who started the first nine games of the season there.

Tanner also opted to play Erik Payne at second base. Payne became the fourth different player to start there this season, and he and Bright even teamed up for a 6-4-3 double play, despite this week being the first time Payne had played the position since high school.

While Roth cruised through much of the first eight innings of the game, Princeton didn't go down without providing some tense moments in the ninth.

Matt Bowman led off the inning with a single. After a fly out, Sam Mulroy singled to left. Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. Roth then got a groundout to short which allowed Bowman to score Princeton's first run of the game. Beal then came in to earn his first career save by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Albert.

South Carolina is back in action tomorrow with a 4 p.m. first pitch in game two of the series. Matt Price will get the start for the Gamecocks.

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