By PETE IACOBELLI AP Sportswriter
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Michael Roth pitched into the ninth, allowing six hits, and Scott Wingo had two RBIs as South Carolina defeated Connecticut 5-1 in the NCAA Super Regional on Saturday night. The defending national champion Gamecocks (49-14) are a win away from a return trip to the College World Series. Roth (13-3) came in second in the country with a 1.10 ERA and lived up to that against the Huskies (45-18-1). He got stronger as the game progressed, notching his first two strikeouts of the game on UConn stars George Springer and Mike Nemeth in the eighth inning. Roth finally left with one out in the ninth to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 8,242 at Carolina Stadium. Wingo tied the game at 1-all in the third with an RBI single, then put the Gamecocks (49-14) up 3-1 with a run-scoring hit off Connecticut ace Matt Barnes (11-5). Connecticut came in with momentum after winning two straight at Clemson to capture last week’s NCAA regional and two first-round MLB draft picks in center fielder Springer and Barnes.
Early on, the Huskies were every bit the match for the defending national champions. Springer singled and scored on Mike Nemeth’s hit for a 1-0 lead. Then Barnes showed off his power arm, hitting 97 mph at times and striking out the side to quiet the large crowd. Connecticut had the chance to add to its lead in the second when shortstop Peter Mooney threw wild into the dugout to put Nick Ahmed on second. When Nick Friel walked it left runners on the corners with one out. But Billy Ferriter’s bunt up the first base line went right to South Carolina’s Christian Walker, who cut down Ahmed at home. LJ Mazzilli flied out to center to end the threat. South Carolina tied the game in the third on Marzilli’s two-out double and Wingo’s RBI single.
The Gamecocks moved in front for good in fourth, helped by a tiring Barnes. Jake Williams worked a two-out walk and Mooney singled him to third. Then Barnes let loose with a pitch wide of catcher Doug Elliott and Williams scored easily. South Carolina put it away and chased Barnes with a three-run fifth. Steven Neff led off with a double and Wingo singled him home. Another Barnes wild pitch moved Wingo to third before consecutive hits by Brady Thomas and Adrian Morales made it 5-1.
Roth didn’t have many problems after Connecticut’s first two innings. He gave up a hit to start the third that was quickly erased on a double play and then didn’t allow another hit until the seventh when UConn had runners on first and third. Again, though, Roth pitched out of trouble when John Andreoli grounded out to second Roth, a junior, was picked in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians and has been South Carolina’s ace since the season began. He showed that grit against Connecticut, when he struck out Springer and Nemeth. Roth got a big cheer when he ran out to the mound for the ninth. Roth didn’t last, though, pulled with a one out and a runner on first.
John Taylor got the last two outs for the Gamecocks, who will try and reach their fifth CWS since 2002 when these teams take the field on Sunday. Connecticut is playing in its first super regional series as it tries for its first trip to Omaha since 1979.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)