COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lefthander Michael Roth pitched 8.1 solid innings, and second baseman Scott Wingo drove in two runs as South Carolina defeated Connecticut 5-1 in game one of the NCAA Columbia Super Regional on Saturday night at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks (49-14) are now one win away from a return trip to Omaha, and they have now won 10 consecutive postseason games dating back to their run to the College World Series title last season. Connecticut (45-19-1) fell in their first appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, but has experience in this situation as the Huskies fought their way out of the losers' bracket in last week's Clemson Regional.
Roth (13-3) was his usual dominant self, allowing just one run – unearned – on six hits while striking out two and walking three in 8.1 innings of work. He has now gone 30.0 consecutive innings, spanning the entirety of his last four starts, without surrendering an earned run. It was Roth's seventh time this season to pitch eight or more innings. With his performance tonight, his season ERA dropped to an amazing 1.02. First-round draft pick Matt Barnes (11-5) took the loss for UConn, surrendering all five runs on eight hits while walking a pair and striking out six.
Wingo had his eighth two-RBI game of the season as he went 2-for-5, driving in runs in the third and fifth inning as the Gamecocks climbed out of an early hole. Evan Marzilli was also 2-for-5 in the game with a double, and Steven Neff had his fifth multi-hit game of the year with a 2-for-4 effort that included a double. On the year, 12 of Neff's 18 hits have gone for extra bases.
For Connecticut, six players had one hit apiece. Second baseman LJ Mazzilli extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when George Springer got a 2-out single to center, then advanced to second as the ball was misplayed by the Gamecock outfield. He would score one batter later when Mike Nemeth singled through the left side to put the Huskies on the board.
Early on, Barnes was able to overpower the Gamecock hitters as he struck out the side in the first and fanned four total batters in his first trip through the Carolina order. But the second run through the lineup proved to be a different story.
With two out in the third, Marzilli doubled off the wall in left to put a runner in scoring position for Wingo. The Gamecock second baseman came through with a base hit, bringing Marzilli home to tie the game at 1-1.
An inning later, the Gamecocks again rallied with two outs as Jake Williams drew a walk to start things off. After Peter Mooney singled to put runners at first and third, Barnes would uncork a wild pitch that allowed Williams to score from third and give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
Carolina would add some insurance and gain some breathing room in the fifth. Neff led off with a double and moved onto third base after a misplay in left field. After Marzilli struck out, Wingo came through again with a single to center, scoring Neff to put the Gamecocks up 3-1. It would be the first of four straight Carolina hits – a wild pitch moved Wingo from first to third, after which Walker singled to bring him home, increasing the Gamecock lead to 4-1. After Walker moved to second on a passed ball, Brady Thomas singled to bring home Walker and make the score 5-1. Another hit from Morales would chase Barnes from the game; the Gamecocks would get only two hits in the final 3.2 innings against the UConn bullpen.
Meanwhile, Roth was cruising. After allowing a leadoff single to John Andreoli in the third, the lefthander did not give up another hit until the seventh inning. In fact, from the third through the sixth, no UConn baserunner advanced past first base. Roth was able to get out of a jam in the seventh as Wingo started a 4-6-3 double play to erase the first hit, and then after UConn put runners at the corners with two out, he was able to get another grounder to Wingo to end the inning. He appeared to get stronger as the game went on – he recorded back-to-back strikeouts in the eighth, his first two punchouts of the game.
After Roth left to a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd of 8,242, John Taylor only needed six pitches to end the ballgame and put the Gamecocks one win away from their 10th trip to the College World Series.
Game two of the Columbia Super Regional gets underway at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday with a national broadcast slated for ESPNU.