Roth silences Gators as Gamecocks sweep College World Series with 5-2 victory Tuesday

By Adam Silverstein
June 28, 2011

After a pair of throwing errors cost them the opening game of the 2011 College World Series Championship Series on Monday, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball hoped to reverse their fortunes on Tuesday with a second crack at the defending champion No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks. Instead, an error in the third propelled a three-run inning and played a large part in South Carolina (55-14) defeating Florida (53-19) 5-2 to win their second-straight NCAA National Championship.

The Gamecocks captured the final national title played at Rosenblatt Stadium in 2010 and earned the first contested at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE as the Gators moved to 0-4 in the CWS Championship Series in school history (0-2 vs. Texas in 2005).

South Carolina also won their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament game dating back to 2010 and improved to 4-1 against Florida in 2011.

Junior right-handed pitcher Michael Roth (14-3) earned the start for USC and was absolutely stellar in his outing, allowing only two earned runs in 7.2 innings while giving up five hits and two walks, hitting a pair of batters, and striking out six.

UF countered with freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (8-1), who hoped to match Roth pitch-for-pitch and succeeded through the first two innings before struggling mightily with his command in the third.

Whitson started the inning by giving up a stand-up double down the left field line to South Carolina shortstop Peter Mooney, who advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. He was then plated when second baseman Scott Wingo hit a sacrifice fly to right.

With two outs and runners on first and second, first baseman Christian Walker smacked a chopper to the left side that Florida sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana flubbed, scoring another for the Gamecocks. South Carolina added one more in the inning as an infield single by designated hitter Brady Thomas plated the second unearned run of the inning, putting the Gamecocks ahead 3-0.

Having retired eight-straight batters, Roth was tagged for a solo homer cranked to left by Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino in the fourth, reducing Florida’s deficit to 3-1.

UF looked to even things up in the fifth after getting runners on first and second with nobody out. Freshman third baseman Cody Dent was sent to bunt the runners over but fouled out into a strikeout on a 1-2 count; senior center fielder Bryson Smith followed by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning without the Gators plating a run.

USC hoped to increase their lead in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases after Whitson (4.2 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 HBP, 4 K) allowed a pair of two-out singles and hit a batter. He was then pulled for junior RHP Tommy Toledo, who struck out the next batter to save the inning and leave the bases full.

Florida tried to get things going in the sixth, once again getting their first two batters on board. However, a strikeout and consecutive ground outs stranded the runners on second and third in scoring position to conclude the frame.

South Carolina added to their lead in the latter portion of the frame, as Mooney hit a solo homer off Toledo by sending a rocket to right.

The Gators had one more chance in the top of the eighth when Zunino hit a one-out double to right-center and advanced to third on a ground out. Senior second baseman Josh Adams singled to right to score Zunino and reduce the Gamecocks’ lead to 4-2. Unfortunately for UF, junior pinch hitter Tyler Thompson struck out looking to end the frame, stranding Adams on first.

USC tacked on one more run in their final frame, sending a lead-off single from first-to-third on an infield grounder and wild pitch before plating him with a single to right. Head coach Ray Tanner then brought on closer Matt Price, who earned his 20th save of the season and second in as many days.

Florida concluded the 2011 season with a school single-season record 53 wins while also reaching the CWS Championship Series for just the second time in school history. The Gators also won the Southeastern Conference regular season championship and tournament title while boasting the league’s Player of the Year in Zunino.

2011 CWS All-Tournament Team
Third baseman Cody Dent
Center fielder Bryson Smith

9 Comments

  1. John S says:

    Good season Gators, sorry you got close enough to taste it. The gamecocks can drive the ball into the ground and hope for the best better than anyone, so I guess they earned it. We’re loaded for next year so know you’ll have more opportunities.

    Thanks for making an exciting summer, you’ve performed admirably. Thank you seniors. Go Gators

  2. GatorCooken says:

    1st off, great season, it’s always great to be a Florida Gator!

    With that said, it’s going to be just like with softball….. what could have been? If we just squeeze one person across the plate in yesterday’s game with the bases loaded….if we just get Wingo out in the 8th….lots of ifs. But that’s sports. Just feel bad for our boys tonight. But Go Gators! Next year we’re stacked!

  3. GatorRx says:

    Well, you have to consider it a successful season. Most wins for a season in school history, tied for regular season champs, won SEC tourney champs, CWS two years in a row, finals this year. Also, I guess there is no shame finishing #2 in the nation. Still, it hurts for it all to end like this. I honestly still believe we have the most talented team in the country, so I hate we squandered the opportunity for a national title and went out the way we did. All the credit goes to SC. They were obviously the better team, and made the plays they needed to to win.

    Hurry up football season! Please!

  4. Ken (CA) says:

    very disappointing….1 error through the entire post-season, then 7 in the CWS. the guys and the ladies both had it within their grasp and let it slip through their fingers…it is hard to feel good about the season, as good as it was when they fell short the way they did…

  5. Basshole says:

    Tough game last night, but I have to say that after Monday’s game the odds were against us with Roth going last night and our ace already done. I was pretty mad last night, but I think in a few weeks I’ll be happy about the team’s accomplishment. At least they made it further than last year and next year we should have a solid squad.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      In a few weeks you will be thinking about football because fall practice will have started!

  6. JW says:

    Great season. Just lost to a better team, and judging by their winning streak in the NCAA tournament, one of the better teams in quite a while.

  7. Mr2Bits says:

    Just goes to show the difference in talent right now between these two teams.

    USC show fantastic defensive skills while our defense was horrific. I don’t think Adams made one grab at second when he was flopping like a fish at the balls hit through the middle. Seems as though we couldn’t hit anything past their second baseman Wingo. 3 errors in 2 games, where all errors resulted in runs is just unacceptable. Don’t know if it was luck or what, but USC just seemed to be in the right place at the right time EVERY TIME!

    The second and most glaring difference was plate discipline. Roth had a 85-87 MPH fastball. That should have been batting practice for most of these guys as his secondary pitches were nothing special either. He was not sneaky with his pitches and frankly never really threw strikes at all. We could have probably walked in runs all night had we not been swinging at everything. I could have swore Tiger was wearing a UF baseball uni last night because we were hacking away at everything, balls rolling across the plate included. Our cold bats really led to an disgusting runners left in scoring percentage. Think we scored 3 runs and left 20 on base. That will not cut it to win championships.

    With all that said, I believe this team will only get better and was very proud of them. Sully is a fantastic coach and has done wonderful things and deserves nothing but praises. People who blame him Urban style really needs to pump the brakes and take a step back.

  8. BobG says:

    Very frustrating. Orel Herscheiser summed it up. The Gators would have been better served to stand at the plate with their bats on their shoulders and make Roth throw strikes. Defensive lapses are simply inexplicable. Great pitching with so little support.

    Once the knot in the stomach subsided, it is great to reflect that the baseball program, and the softball program, are so near the pinnacle. Gator baseball and softball fans are cheering their teams long after most fans have turned their attention to other matters.

    On the subject of programs on the rise, as a Lacrosse fan (specifically national champs–again–UVA men), I offer a shout-out to the Gator girls. They are a rising power on the national scene in a great sport.

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