Roth leaves in typical Roth fashion

Michael Roth was Michael Roth, pitching a phenomenal game in a 5-0 South Carolina win in game one of the Super Regional Saturday night at Carolina Stadium. With the win, the Gamecocks are now just one game away from a third consecutive appearance to Omaha to defend its back-to-back National Championships.

For a guy that has had many memorable moments since his first start against rival Clemson in the 2010 College World Series, his last at Carolina Stadium was one of his best performances. Michael Roth was sensational, pitching into the eighth inning without giving up a run in South Carolina's 5-0 victory in game one of the Super Regional against Oklahoma. South Carolina won its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament game dating back to that 2010 College World Series and 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament win in Columbia dating back to the 2002 Super Regional. With the win South Carolina moved to 44-17 on the season while Oklahoma dropped to 42-24.

"I'd be lying if I told you it was just another game for me," Roth said. "There was just something special about tonight and I'm just glad to leave on a high note at this stadium for me, personally."

Roth, who improved to 7-1 on the year, was dicing in and out of trouble all night. The senior struggled at times finding the strike zone, and at other times was throwing hittable pitches. Roth had just one 1-2-3 inning, the sixth, but was able to scatter six hits and two walks over the other 7.2 innings. The key to any good outing for a pitcher is to retire the leadoff hitter and Roth did just that. He allowed just two of the eight leadoff hitters he faced to reach base, but did not allow either runner to advance to second.

"Roth was like he has been in his career," head coach Ray Tanner said. "He was outstanding. He got a couple of runners on a couple of times and got out of it. He did a heck of a job. Webb came in and was really good at the end. Runs and hits are hard to come by and we were very fortunate tonight."

The Sooners only had three real scoring threats the entire game. In the second and fourth inning Oklahoma had runners on first and second, but each time Roth got out of the inning without allowing either runner to advance to third. Max White was the only runner to reach third base the entire game for the Sooners, but he had a little assistance from Carolina's Evan Marzilli to get there. White delivered a line drive to center in the fifth inning that caught Marzilli in no-man's land, short-hopping the normally flawless center fielder and getting by him. White went all the way to third on the play but was left there after Caleb Bushyhead flew out to Marzilli to end the inning.

"It's definitely not a good feeling," Marzilli said of having to chase down the ball all alone.

Roth's day finally ended in the eighth after giving up a two-out single to Evan Mistich in the eighth inning. Roth left the field for the final time in a Gamecock uniform to an extremely loud standing ovation. Roth returned shortly after to an even louder curtain call, one that would rival any moment in Carolina Stadium history.

"All the guys were telling me that the fans were calling for a curtain call," Roth said. "That was my first and last here so it was pretty cool."

Meanwhile, the Carolina offense provided everything Roth would need early on in the game. The Gamecocks struck for three runs in the second inning. Erik Payne singled and would score on a wild pitch, LB Dantzler doubled to score Adam Matthews after his leadoff walk, and Dantzler scored on a Chase Vergason sacrifice fly.

"It's very important to go out there and establish an early lead like that, especially in a game like this. We have a veteran pitcher up on the mound and a couple of veteran guys on the team, especially with a team like that (Oklahoma), they're a great team. You can never have too many runs."

Carolina should be very happy with the three early runs on Oklahoma starter Jordan John, who fell to 8-8 on the year. Dillon Overton came on to begin the third inning and was virtually unhittable most of the night. He pitched the first three innings without giving up a hit and the only baserunner was Joey Pankake, who reached on a dropped third strike. He would strike out six in six innings and not allow a walk.

"Coming in I wasn't expecting to (pitch)," Overton said. "But Coach Golloway told me before the game to be ready whenever. When I came in, I was just trying to minimize the damage."

If Tanner was even hinting at not allowing Roth to go back onto the field in the eighth after surpassing the 100-pitch mark, it was made easier after the offense finally got to Overton and added a pair of runs on a pair of RBI singles by Joey Pankake and Christian Walker.

Roth was able to go back out and earn an ovation that he's earned ever since he entered Gamecock lore with that performance against Clemson two years ago.

"It was classic Roth," Walker said. "Like he said, there was definitely something special about tonight. We knew it was probably going to be his last start here. He did a great job like he always does. He puts everything on the line for you, and it definitely is exciting playing behind someone like that."

Game two is set for 7:00 Sunday night. Colby Holmes is expected to get the start for Carolina, who hopes to be heading to Omaha again.


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