Roth rolls through 5-1 win over Clemson

With the season on the line for the third straight game, South Carolina (51-16) turned to reliever Michael Roth for the start against Clemson (45-25), and he came through with a complete game three-hitter against the Tigers. The left-handed reliever kept the hot Tiger lineup off-balance all night, striking out four in the 5-1 win.

Omaha, Neb. -- Michael Roth was purely masterful in his first start of the year, and the Carolina offense struck early and often to give the Gamecocks a convincing 5-1 win over Clemson, setting up a winner-takes-all matchup tomorrow to see which team will play for a championship.

Starting against a Tigers lineup that featured six left-handed batters, Roth came into the game looking to counter with his excellent pitching against lefties.

Despite the unusual starter for the Gamecocks, it was USC that would dominate from beginning to end on this night as they faced Clemson for the first time since a 19-6 defeat on March 7th.

The Greer, SC native would do more than keep USC alive again, shutting down one of the hottest offenses in the country on one hundred and nine pitches in the complete game three-hitter.

"What can you say about Michael Roth's performance," said Ray Tanner following the game. "He kept stretching it out. That was one of the most impressive performances I've ever had a young man pitch for me. That was certainly one for the record books, as far as I'm concerned."

After last night's 3-2 extra inning victory over Oklahoma, USC came into today looking to get a few innings out of Roth before mixing and matching with a bullpen that has been solid but taxed in this tournament.

Luckily it would never get to that point for the Gamecocks, as they rode Roth from beginning to end to force the extra game tomorrow night and recall memories of their 2002 comeback against the Tigers.

"I think that Michael's experience, his ability to go into tough situations, this was a very difficult one," added Tanner. "He's pitched all year under circumstances that are not comfortable with his role out of the bullpen. We just felt like the matchup was good."

This time a consistent offense took a lot of the drama out early on, with the Gamecocks pushing runs across in each of the first four innings, chasing starter Dominic Leone and setting the tone for Roth's dominance on the mound.

Another Riverside High School product would add to the win in a big way, with Kyle Enders lacing his third home run of the year to left in the fourth inning.

It wouldn't take USC long to take the lead against the freshman Leone, as Evan Marzilli led off the game with a double and came around to score on Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI groundout for the 1-0 lead.

Another leadoff double in the second by Brady Thomas would produce a run as Adrian Morales drove him in with a single but was thrown out trying to move to second.

Evan Marzilli worked a one out walk in the third, and scored on Jackie Bradley Jr.'s double off the wall in left for a 3-0 lead. That would chase Leone from the game as he gave way to David Haselden.

Haselden would allow two runs on four hits in just over three innings of work, giving up an RBI single to Enders in addition to the home run.

Clemson finally broke through for the first and only run of the game in the third inning. First baseman Richie Schaffer led off with a double before moving to third on Wilson Boyd's ground out and scoring on a past ball.

That would be the only hit Roth would give up until the eighth inning as he rolled through the Clemson lineup seemingly with ease.

After getting the Tigers in order in the sixth and seventh innings, Roth ran into one of his only bits of trouble in the bottom of the eighth.

Centerfielder Wilson Boyd reached on a throwing error by Gamecock second baseman Scott Wingo, and nine-hole hitter Spencer Kieboom followed up with a single to put men on first and second with one out.

But Roth would come up big once again, getting John Nester to ground into a fielder's choice at first base and popping Mike Freeman up down the third base line in left for the final out.

Another baserunner would reach in the ninth on Brad Miller's single, but Roth struck out John Hinson to end the game and release the Gamecock bench onto the field to celebrate with Roth.

Perhaps the crowning moment in Roth's night came when he struck out Clemson all-American Kyle Parker swinging for the second out in the ninth, with obvious frustration showing on Parker's face as he made the long walk back to the Tiger dugout.

"I think from the last time we saw him, I think he dropped his arm slide a little bit, as far away as the ball (was) moving tonight," said Tiger centerfielder Wilson Boyd. "(He) made it tough on a lefty because it exploded in. And he had a slider away and everything, down in the zone. He did what he had to do tonight to win the ball game for them."

The outing was a career long for Roth, whose previous long was 4.1 innings pitched against College of Charleston in 2009.

"I just went out there and tried to throw inning after inning," said Roth in describing his performance. "I told Coach I'd throw until my arm fell off at the elevator at the hotel (last night). I just (approached) it that I was relieving in the first inning."

The left-hander produced sixteen ground ball outs as he kept the ball down in the zone and allowed his team to play stellar defense behind him. His outing against left-handed hitters was even better, as they finished just 1-20 with him, with the lone hit coming from Miller in the last inning.

Clemson was held to their lowest hit total of the 2010 season and it was only the third time held under double digits in hits for the Tigers in ten total games in this tournament.

The win sets up another game with Clemson tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern time to determine one representative in the national championship series. TCU and UCLA will also play a decisive game on their side of the bracket tomorrow afternoon, the first time since 1988 that both brackets have gone to their final games.

"(Tonight) was either win or go home for us," said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "They still had another chance. So, I mean, we're both going to come out and play tomorrow, start 0-0. Either person loses, they're going home."

For Gamecock fans hoping to see a repeat of 2002, Clemson assured everyone they would have a short memory following tonight's performance.

"As far as that goes, that (year) has nothing to do with this College World Series," said Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman. "They beat us tonight. But we got a game tomorrow and we're going to come out ready to play."

The win was the one-hundredth in NCAA tournament play for USC, running their all-time record to 100-56.

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