Gamecocks win 20th straight tourney game
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's Michael Roth had such a perfect ending, even Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway couldn't help but smile.
Roth held the Sooners to six hits over 7 2-3 innings in his final home start as the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks won their 20th straight NCAA tournament game with a 5-0 victory over Oklahoma in the super regional series Saturday night.
Roth left in the eighth inning after allowing a two-out hit to Evan Mistich to a standing ovation at jam-packed Carolina Stadium.
"We had designs to not let his night be that good, but as a baseball fan and somebody that really loves the game, it was poetic justice," Golloway said.
"It's probably the way it should be for (Michael Roth) to run off that field the way that he did," Golloway continued.
It looked as if Roth might be leaving a lot earlier than he did as he struggled with his control much of the game. Still, the Sooners (42-24) couldn't break through and South Carolina (44-17) moved a victory away from its third straight College World Series.
LB Dantzler's RBI double keyed a three-run second inning that was all Roth (7-1) needed.
After shaking hands with coach Ray Tanner, Roth came out of the dugout to acknowledge the cheers with a wave of his cap.
"It was classic Roth," South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker said.
Roth may have more work ahead should the Gamecocks continue a try at a third straight college title, something that hasn't been done since Southern Cal won five in a row from 1970-74.
Don't count on Oklahoma going down quietly, though. The Sooners lost the opener in the Charlottesville Regional last weekend before rallying with four straight wins to move on. This could be a much tougher task, though.
The Gamecocks will start Colby Holmes, who tossed a one-hitter to beat Manhattan at the regional last weekend.
South Carolina had a three-run second inning off Oklahoma starter Jordan John (8-8). Dantzler had an RBI double to drive in the first run. Erik Payne scored when John bounced a pitch in the dirt that catcher Tanner Toal couldn't handle and Chase Vergason had a sacrifice fly to center moments later to bring in Dantzler, who moved to third on the wild pitch.
The Gamecocks set the NCAA baseball tournament record for consecutive wins in last year's title run. They've kept adding to it this season, going 3-0 in last week's Columbia Regional with a couple of satisfying wins over rival Clemson, who've accounted for four of South Carolina's victories during the streak.
Oklahoma had been the last team to beat the Gamecocks in NCAA play with a 4-3 win to start the 2010 College World Series for both teams. Golloway stirred up some South Carolina fans when he reminded people of his team's success over the champs in the CWS two years ago.
But the Gamecocks' offense and Roth's pitching quickly ended thoughts of an Oklahoma repeat here.
Roth knew what this start meant and soaked in the moment. "I'd be lying to you if I tried to tell you it was just another game for me," he said. "There was something special about tonight."
Roth ended with 126 pitches and talked his way back into the eighth inning when Tanner wanted to sit him down. "You've got ownership here," Tanner told him when Roth insisted on staying.
Reliever Dillon Overton, who entered for John in the third inning, gave Oklahoma a chance to scratch back by holding the Gamecocks scoreless from the third through the sixth innings.
The Sooners' offense -- like most opponents the past two years -- simply could not master Roth's pitches. And when the Sooners did mount a rally, it did not last.
Caleb Bushyhead singled in the first and was thrown out easily trying to steal second. Oklahoma had two on with one out in the second, but Garrett Carey flied out to center and Erik Ross grounded out to first.
Tanner Toal led off the third with a single before Max White fouled out attempting to bunt and Roth got Bushyhead to tap a ball back to the mound that the senior lefty turned into an easy double play.
The Gamecocks added a pair of runs in the seventh on RBI hits by Joey Pankake and Walker.
Roth was a little-known reliever back in 2010 who became a Gamecock favorite when he threw a three-hit, complete game victory over Clemson at the College World Series. He's been South Carolina's ace ever since, posting a 21-4 mark the past two seasons.
"I've had a great career here," said Roth, picked in the ninth round of the MLB draft by the Angels this week. "Hopefully, it's not over this weekend."
The Gamecocks have also won 23 straight home NCAA tournament games, a streak that began exactly 10 years ago Saturday with a 6-4 win over Miami in the super regional that send South Carolina to its first College World Series under Tanner.
The Gamecocks get the chance to bring Tanner his sixth trip to Omaha on Sunday.