Roth to start for Gamecocks in game 2

Michael Roth (Source: TheBigSpur.com)
Michael Roth (Source: TheBigSpur.com)

OMAHA, Neb. (TheBigSpur.com) - South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner didn't try to play it close to the vest after a 2-1 victory over Florida in game one of the national championship series. Junior Michael Roth is going to start tonight's game against the Gators (54-18), barring some sort of freak event.

Prior to game two against Virginia, the 15th-year coach was a bit coy about his pitching plans. When Virginia didn't name their starter headed into Friday night's contest before going to bed on Thursday, Tanner didn't either.

Everyone knew it would be Roth, but Tanner just didn't want to say it.

Heading into today's potential championship-clinching contest, everyone knows it will be Roth and even Tanner has admitted as much following Monday night's game.

"I will not hold him unless he feels like it's in his best interest to wait another day or if he feels it doesn't serve a purpose or coach Meyers feels there's no reason to do it," Tanner said. "From my perspective, if he's our best guy and he's available, we'll put him out there."

Late Tuesday morning, it was confirmed he would start.

On four day's rest, Roth tossed another magnificent game against the Cavaliers. He went seven innings and turned the game over to the bullpen with a one-run lead. Two errors led to a no-decision but Roth put his team in position to win.

The southpaw threw only 90 pitches on Friday night and said following the game he would be ready to start game two. The game is here and Roth is ready.

Florida, with its season on the line, will turn to a freshman. Typical third starter Karsten Whitson will get the ball in a start for the 19th time this season. He has a perfect 8-0 record with a 2.43 earned run average.

"Whitson has pitched in big games all year long," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "He's pitched in the SEC. That's what prepares you for these type of starts. I'm not going to put any pressure on him or tell him he has to go five, six, seven innings. We're going to let him go as hard as he can for as long as he can."

A right-hander, Whitson has pitched in big games all season long serving as the team's Sunday starter. The first time around against the Gamecocks, he threw five innings allowing one earned run on two hits and five strikeouts. He was, however, lifted after just 73 pitches.

O'Sullivan has been very careful with his freshman this season as he hasn't thrown more than 92 pitches in a start this season. His top came against LSU in the opening conference weekend of the season and he eclipsed the 90-pitch mark just one other time during the season.

In his first outing against the Gators, Roth twirled 8.1 innings and allowed two earned runs on 10 hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. He picked up the win, out-dueling sophomore Brian Johnson, with 109 pitches.

The two pitchers will meet tonight at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN in game two of the national championship series. South Carolina will be the home team tonight and also in game three, if necessary.

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