Gamecock Baseball: South Carolina Handles Florida 7-3 In College World Series Opener
Stop me if you've heard this one before.
South Carolina defeats Florida in the College World Series with stellar pitching, great defense and timely hitting.
In rematch of last year's championship series, South Carolina took on the number one seed Florida Gators and came away victorious with a 7-3 win.
The Gamecocks' offense exploded in the fifth inning scoring five runs with three coming off an Erik Payne triple that allowed South Carolina enough cushion to hold on thanks to the work of Michael Roth, Tyler Webb and Matt Price. Florida wouldn't threaten again as South Carolina worked the Gators pitching all evening long. The Gators were no match for this South Carolina baseball team.
The first few innings for USC were wasted opportunities as they continued to put men on base in scoring position only to come up short. Florida's starting pitcher Brian Johnson worked out of several jams in the early innings but his high-pitch count caught up with him in the fifth inning when the Gamecocks added five runs on the board. Johnson failed to record an out in the fifth and was tagged for five earned runs in the inning.
The five-run fifth inning looked like this: Evan Mazilli double to lead off the inning. Christian Walker single to have runners on the corners. Adam Matthews walked to load the bases with no outs. Erik Payne hits a three-run triple to clear the bases and give USC the lead. Florida's pitcher was lifted but USC's next batter, LB Dantzler, hits a bomb to center for an RBI double. Tanner English was able to get Dantzler over to third base with a bunt. Chase Vergason singled home Dantzler for South Carolina's fifth run.
This is what championship teams do when it matters most. The make the most of their opportunities and, while they didn't add runs in the first four innings, the work put in against Johnson paid off in the fifth for South Carolina.
It was smooth sailing from this point on as Michael Roth picked up another victory in College World Series play. Roth pitched 6.1 innings with three strikeouts and three walks on the evening. He was efficient and handled the opener extremely well for the Gamecocks. He even added his own highlight-worthy catch on a bunt attempt by Florida's Josh Tobias.
Tyler Webb and Matt Price closed it down for the Gamecocks following Roth's departure during the seventh inning. Webb pitched .2 innings worth of work with one walk allowed but did not give up any runs. His effort allowed the Gamecocks to get to Matt Price in the eigth inning and it was all over for the Gators. They were no match for Matt Price as he became the SEC's all-time leader in saves with his 42nd career save in last night's matchup. Price went 2.0 innings for USC with only two hits allowed and three strikeouts. It was his 12th save of the season.
This game was highlighted by three great defensive plays: Michael Roth's diving catch on the bunt attempt, Chase Vergason's diving stop to get the runner out at second and Evan Marzilli's diving catch in center field.
They say big players step up in big games. The Gamecocks stepped up big, yet again, on college baseball's biggest stage. South Carolina was able to get some great effort overall and might be breathing a little easier with that first win in Omaha.
For the next game, the Gamecocks will take the field on Monday against the Arkansas Razorbacks at 9:00 pm. It's another SEC rival in the College World Series and another tough test for the Gamecocks. USC will look to keep its 22-game win streak alive in the NCAA Tournament as well as their 12-game win streak in the College World Series.
The Gamecocks are in great position to make another magical run this summer. Saturday night's game was just the start for South Carolina.