Roth, Price leave CWS legacy

OMAHA, Neb. –- South Carolina wasn't supposed to be here. The hurt of Monday's game two loss to Arizona will take some time to heal for the Gamecocks, but a streak of three-straight championship series appearances is the memory that should stick.

Michael Roth and Matt Price played an important role in the back-to-back national championship run, and while the lasting memories of 2012 won't be another dog pile on the mound at TD Ameritrade Park, the duo was a big reason South Carolina was even in Omaha this year.

What Roth brought to the Gamecocks over the past three College World Series appearances and two full seasons is something most college teams dream of -- a starting pitcher that will hold the opponent down and give his team a chance to win.

It wasn't always dominant and he didn't always keep the bases perfectly clean, but Roth's story from left-handed matchup reliever to the best pitcher in College World Series history is one that won't be matched anytime soon.

For just over two years, Roth has been college baseball.

His era doesn't end without a rewrite of the record book. The senior set the all- time record with eight College World Series starts, including a record three in the championship series. In his record 60.1 career innings in Omaha, Roth's four wins are second to only the five by his teammate and closer, Price.

Roth's 1.49 ERA is fifth lowest among pitchers at the College World Series with a minimum of 30 innings.

"It's just been a wonderful opportunity," Roth said after the game. "The things that we have been a part of for the past three years—I don't think you can imagine that, really. It was a special time and really can't say enough about how fun these past four years have been to me."

The nightmare matchup for opponents was a deep start for Roth, followed by an appearance by Price. It would take a team beating that combination to dethrone the Gamecocks from their perch high above the rest of college baseball. On Monday, Arizona accomplished it, a feat not many teams in college baseball have secured in recent years.

That's what has made the Gamecocks run special. For a school that put itself on the national map a long time ago by hitting home runs and putting up eye-popping offensive numbers, it was a quirky, soft-tossing left-hander that changed the legacy of an already tradition-rich program.

Roth helped South Carolina become the first college baseball program to play in the championship series/game in three straight years since Texas did it in 1983-85.

Price did some work of his own on the record book. Besides holding the career record for wins in the College World Series, his 13th career appearance in Omaha on Monday tied former Texas reliever J. Brent Cox.

Roth, nonchalantly about pro ball as always, said after the game that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim "will call when they call." He'll start his pro career, along with likely Price, center fielder Evan Marzilli and first baseman Christian Walker—four centerpieces that changed how the baseball program in Columbia is viewed around the country today.

The ending was sour for players and fans, but it doesn't cloud the legacy left by the exiting players. It's a group that forever changed the legacy of South Carolina baseball.

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