South Carolina tops Florida again
Gamecocks capture second consecutive national championship
OMAHA, Neb. -- South Carolina clinched its second consecutive national championship with a performance different from most of its others at this year’s College World Series.
No drama was necessary.
Michael Roth pitched 7 2-3 innings on three days’ rest and the Gamecocks were in control throughout a 5-2 victory against Florida that completed a two-game sweep in the CWS finals Tuesday night.
“We’re not the most talented team, and we don’t have the best players position for position,” Roth said, “but we go out and stick together as a team. We battle. I can’t describe it. We’re a bunch of average Joes and love each other and come out and battle.”
South Carolina (55-14) became the first team to ever go 10-0 in an NCAA tournament and the first since Oregon State in 2007 to go unbeaten in a CWS.
The Gamecocks’ streaks of 16 NCAA tournament wins and 11 consecutive victories in the CWS are both the longest all-time.
South Carolina has the distinction of winning the last CWS played at Rosenblatt Stadium and the first at TD Ameritrade Park.
Peter Mooney doubled to start a three-run third inning in the matchup of Southeastern Conference rivals and hit the Gamecocks’ first home run of the CWS in the sixth.
After giving up four runs in the first inning of their opener against Texas A&M, the Gamecocks allowed just six in their final 50 innings in Omaha.
They became the sixth team to win consecutive national titles and first since Oregon State in 2006-07.
“They earned this one,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They were a little bit better than us in all phases. They pitched a little bit better. They hit a little bit better. They played a little bit better defense and they earned it.”
Three of the Gamecocks’ first four wins here came in their last at-bat and included incredible pitching and defensive performances in the late innings.
None of that was necessary Tuesday.
“You have to be a little lucky to win this game,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “We were living a charmed life.”
South Carolina second baseman Scott Wingo was named Most Outstanding Player. He had the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against Texas A&M and made two great plays at second base to keep Florida from scoring late in the game Monday.
“He’s been so valuable to this program,” Tanner said. “He loves this program. He has fun. That’s how you have to play this game.”
Roth (14-3), who pitched seven innings against Virginia on Friday, gave up five hits and two runs before leaving in the eighth. He started last year’s national championship game but didn’t get the decision.
“Mike has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve seen on the field,” said South Carolina’s Christian Walker, who played the last two games with a broken left wrist. “You want him out there even if he’s not 100 percent.”
Among pitchers who have worked 30 innings at the CWS, Roth’s 1.17 ERA over 38 1/3 the past two years ranks second all-time behind Ohio State’s Steve Arlin, who had a 0.96 ERA over 47 innings in 1965-66.
Roth came in with a 0.98 ERA for the season and held Florida without a run after it got leadoff men on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Roth left with two outs the next inning after giving up a double to Mike Zunino, who later scored on Josh Adams’ single off John Taylor.
Matt Price worked 1 1-3 innings for his 20th save.
Florida starter Karsten Whitson (8-1) came out strong, mixing in his mid-90s fastball to strike out three of the first six batters.
But South Carolina scored three runs in the third after Mooney’s leadoff double into the left-field corner. Mooney scored on Wingo’s sacrifice fly, Evan Marzilli came home when shortstop Nolan Fontana swiped at and missed Walker’s grounder, and Brady Thomas brought in another run with his infield single.
Whitson, a freshman who was the No. 9 overall draft pick by the San Diego Padres in 2010, left with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. Tommy Toledo came on to strike out Jake Williams.
The Gators made it a two-run game when Zunino hit Roth’s 84-mph slider into the seats in left for his 19th homer of the season—and first off Roth since April 22.
For all the great memories left behind at Rosenblatt, the Gamecocks already have created a bunch at the new stadium.
There was Wingo’s bases-loaded single to beat Texas A&M in the bottom of the ninth in their opening game.
There was Price getting out of bases-loaded situations three times against Virginia on Friday before two errant throws on bunts produced the winning run.
And then there was Wingo throwing out runners at home from second base with bases loaded in the ninth and 10th innings and left fielder Williams nailing Cody Dent at the plate in the 11th before Walker scored the winning run in the 11th on two Florida throwing errors in Monday's contest.
“Just the fact we can stay loose in situations like this,” Walker said. “These guys have an unbelievable amount of love for each other.”