OMAHA, Neb. — USCS MONEY man cashed in another College World Series check Saturday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
Michael Roth, who continues to add chapters to his storybook USC career, did not disappoint once again. Just as he has done time and again throughout his career especially on the biggest stages Roth put USC in position to win.
This time, Roth worked his magic for 61/3 innings. The scoreboard showed he allowed three runs, but the reality is a misplayed line drive by left fielder Tanner English probably cost the left-hander another real gem.
English broke in on a liner in the third inning, allowing the ball to sail over his head for a two-run double with two outs. Otherwise, Florida managed only one other run against Roth, on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
It was typical Roth. He was hardly untouchable. Florida reached him for seven hits. But, as with most opponents, Florida rarely seemed to square up on balls. When he needed an out, he always seemed to get it.
He got a groundout with runners on first and second to end the third inning. He picked up one of his three strikeouts with a runner on second base in the fourth inning. And he left a Florida runner on second base in the fifth inning by getting a fly out and a couple of ground outs.
As USC fans have come to know, Roth is more than just a pitcher. While most pitchers sit idly in the dugout when their team is batting, Roth stood at the rail and led cheers throughout.
When Florida was changing pitchers in the sixth inning, Roth cleared a path in the dugout and played catch from one end to the other with catcher Grayson Greiner.
He also showed off his athletic prowess in the third inning, making a defensive play that likely prevented an even bigger inning for Florida. With runners on first and second and no outs, Roth bolted off the mound and dived to stab a popped up bunt by Josh Tobias.
Again, who among the USC faithful would have expected less from Roth?
He has been a big-game pitcher for USC ever since he was a surprising starting pitcher against Clemson in the losers bracket of the 2010 College World Series. In seven previous College World Series appearances, Roth allowed five earned runs in 38 1/3 innings, a 1.17 ERA.
He entered Saturdays game with the second-best ERA in College World Series history with a minimum of 30 innings pitched. The leader was Steve Arlin of Ohio State (1965-66) with a 0.96 ERA.
In his career, Roth had been equally effective against Florida with a 2-0 record and 1.84 ERA in seven career appearances prior to Saturday. So, it does not usually take much run support for Roth to win.
Once USC broke through for five runs against Florida starter Brian Johnson in the fifth inning, the victory was essentially sealed. Based on his history, the chances of Roth allowing five runs were extremely remote.
Mississippi State touched Roth for five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings earlier this season. Before that, you have to go back to the 2009 season to find such an outing by Roth. His freshman season, Roth allowed five earned runs in a start against College of Charleston and another five earned runs in a relief appearance against Tennessee.
In allowing three runs, Roth could then turn it over to USCs bullpen. Tyler Webb and Matt Price were up to the task and preserved Roths eighth win in nine decisions this season.
The win also ran Roths USC career record to an astonishing 25-6, including 6-0 in NCAA tournament action and 3-0 in the College World Series.
That is why Roth continues to be USCs money man on the mound.
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