OMAHA, Neb. — Kent State’s first appearance in the College World Series is over.
The Golden Flashes don’t think it will be their last.
South Carolina’s Michael Roth pitched a two-hitter on Thursday, retiring the last 22 batters he faced in a 4-1 victory against the Flashes.
Kent State finished with 23 wins in 26 games after going 1-2 at the CWS.
“I believe it will just motivate us to get back here and just push us, make us better ballplayers,” first baseman George Roberts said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The Flashes (47-20) thought they missed their best chance to reach the CWS last year when they lost to Texas in regionals with a roster full of draft picks.
But they won the Mid-American Conference championship, swept through their regional and won a three-game super regional at Oregon to become the first MAC team to make it to Omaha since Eastern Michigan in 1976.
“We have a lot of guys returning next year, and with all of this experience under their belts, it will help them out a lot,” said freshman pitcher Tyler Skulina. “We have a really good class coming in next year for our freshmen. So that’s going to motivate them to want to beat us out for spots and be able to play, so that’s just going to make our team better.”
Kent State lost its CWS opener to Arkansas and eliminated No. 1 national seed Florida before succumbing to Roth, one of the most dominant pitchers in CWS history.
“I think we made a statement that we belong here, and we made a statement that we’re a program that should be recognized nationally, not just regionally,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “That’s what I’m really proud of.”
The loss to the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks came in a game that had been postponed by rain Wednesday.
Grayson Greiner and Chase Vergason hit consecutive RBI singles in the second inning to erase Kent State’s 1-0 lead. LB Dantzler homered in the third against Skulina.
Roth (9-1) struck out eight and walked none. He was perfect after giving up Sawyer Polen’s RBI single in the second inning.
“He is the biggest superstar our game has,” Stricklin said. “He throws 85 mph. He just knows how to pitch. He does everything the right way. Great student. I’ve got a ton of respect for him. I’ve enjoyed watching him on TV. I did not enjoy watching him [Thursday].”
Roth became the first CWS pitcher to throw a complete game with two hits or fewer since June 6, 1993, when Mike Fontana of Long Beach State threw a two-hitter against Kansas.
Roth also became the CWS’ all-time leader in innings pitched, with 53.2 over three years, and tied a CWS career record for starts with his seventh.
The second was the only inning in which Roth allowed a baserunner. After Polen’s single, he got Nick Hamilton to hit into a double play.
The game lasted just 2 hours, 7 minutes, making it the shortest at the CWS since 2003 when Rice and Missouri State played in 2:02.
Kent State had entered the game having won each of Skulina’s last 12 starts. Skulina (11-3) left with two out in the sixth after allowing four runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out nine.
Roth earned his second win of the CWS. He pitched 6 1-3 innings in a 7-3 victory over Florida on Saturday. In 11 career NCAA tournament starts, Roth is 8-0, pitching at least five innings each time and never allowing more than three earned runs.
Kent State shut down South Carolina’s offense after Dantzler hit his 10th homer of the year in the third. Skulina, Casey Wilson and Brian Clark held the Gamecocks to one hit the rest of the way.