When the South Carolina baseball team took a nine-run lead in the second inning against Southern Illinois on Friday afternoon, coach Ray Tanner didn’t envision needing Matt Price to finish the game.
But the Gamecocks had to call on their All-American closer when the Salukis brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. The hard-throwing right-hander did his job, recording the final two outs and saving a 10-6 victory at Carolina Stadium.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to use him, but baseball doesn’t have a clock, other than between innings now, so you have to get 27 outs, and they were hard to get today,” Tanner said. “Thank goodness he was down there.”
Southern Illinois (2-3) scored three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth off several USC relievers before Price entered with the bases loaded to get a pop-up and strikeout.
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The No. 7 Gamecocks (4-0) looked like they would not break a sweat after scoring seven runs in the first inning and two in the second, especially with the way junior left-hander Michael Roth was pitching.
Roth, who threw 62/3 innings, picked up his second win of the season by giving up one earned run on four hits while walking two and striking out a career-high nine.
“Michael Roth was really good. He gave us a quality start last week, and he gave us another one today,” Tanner said. “I felt like he was much better today. His velocity was a little bit better. He was getting ahead in the count.”
Roth said Tanner wouldn’t let him relax despite the big early lead.
“Coach was in my ear after every inning, (saying) ‘One-run lead.’ He wanted me to go out there and pitch like we were just up one run,” Roth said. “I don’t change my mind-set. I’m still trying to get every batter out.”
Roth threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA from 3.18 to 1.89.
“He does such a good job of keeping batters off-speed,” senior catcher Brady Thomas said. “He mixes his pitches well. He locates well. Today his changeup was great. He went to the slider a few times. He was able to get a lot of groundballs and strikeouts.”
Thomas led USC’s 12-hit attack with three hits, including a two-run double in the first inning. The Gamecocks sent 12 batters to the plate that inning against Cameron Maldonado (0-2), who also gave up a two-run double to Adrian Morales, an RBI single to Adam Matthews and a two-run homer off the center-field backdrop to Robert Beary.
“I saw a fastball and I hit it. I knew I hit it well,” said Beary, the designated hitter. “It went out, and it was a good feeling.”
The outburst continued in the second with two runs, including a sacrifice fly by Beary, who had a career-high three RBIs.
The Salukis got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning on a two-run homer by Austin Montgomery off Roth into the left-center bullpen. They added three runs on five hits off reliever Colby Holmes in the eighth before John Taylor and Logan Munson came on to work out of a bases-loaded jam.
Southern Illinois kept battling in the ninth by scoring a run off Munson and Jose Mata, which forced the Gamecocks to use Price. Roth insists he wasn’t concerned about the win slipping away.
“I’m not worried. Our bullpen’s great, and it’s going to be great all year,” Roth said. “We had a few mishaps today, but I don’t get worried about our bullpen.”
The second game of the series begins at 3 p.m. today. USC left-hander Tyler Webb (1-0) will face Southern Illinois left-hander Cody Forsythe (1-0). Sunday’s start time has been moved up 15 minutes to 1:15 p.m. to accommodate the Salukis’ flight plans.
Ray Tanner postgame
|Murphy, Chris cf||5||0||2||0||0||2||3||0||2||.393|
|Duschinsky, Donny 3b||3||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||.143|
|Neece, Wes 3b||2||2||2||1||0||0||3||0||0||.714|
|Pinnon, Blake 2b||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||.167|
|Harding, Brock 2b||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||.235|
|Montgomery, Austin 1b||5||2||3||2||0||1||6||0||0||.409|
|Dowdy, Kollin rf||4||0||0||1||1||2||1||1||0||.261|
|Johnson, Nick lf||5||0||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||.238|
|Sivertsen, Jordan dh||4||0||1||1||1||3||0||0||4||.333|
|Bajer, Brian c||3||0||0||1||1||2||7||0||0||.235|
|Welch, Jake ss||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||2||2||.182|
|Maldonado, Cameron p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Murphy, Matt p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Monette, Brian p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Waldrop, Bryan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Evan Marzilli lf||5||0||1||0||0||3||1||0||0||.250|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||1||2||0||1||0||1||2||0||.238|
|Jake Watson pr||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||3||1||0||0||2||0||3||0||3||.389|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||2||2||0||0||2||5||1||2||.500|
|Brady Thomas c||4||2||3||2||1||1||13||2||0||.500|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||1||1||2||1||1||1||1||0||.385|
|Adam Matthews rf||3||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||.375|
|Jake Williams rf||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Robert Beary dh||4||1||1||3||0||0||0||0||2||.154|
|Scott Wingo 2b||4||1||1||0||1||0||2||1||3||.333|
|Michael Roth p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.333|
|Colby Holmes p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Logan Munson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Jose Mata p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
E - Pinnon(2); Welch(1); Walker(1); Matthews(1). LOB - SIU 10; S. Carolina 11. 2B - Mooney(1); Walker(2); Thomas 2(2); Morales(2). HR - Neece(1); Montgomery(1); Beary(1). HBP - Welch; Walker; Morales. SF - Beary(2). SB - Wingo(1). CS - Murphy, C.(2).
|Maldonado, Cameron L,0-2||1.0||7||9||9||3||2||1||0||1||0||10||14||1||0||58||25.71|
|Michael Roth W,2-0||6.2||4||2||1||2||9||0||0||1||0||24||27||5||5||93||1.89|
|Matt Price S,2||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||2||1||0||4||0.00|
Win - Roth (2-0). Loss - Maldonado (0-2). Save - Price (2). WP - Maldonado(2). HBP - by Maldonado (Walker); by Roth (Welch); by Waldrop (Morales). BK - Murphy, M. Pitches/strikes: Maldonado 58/36; Murphy, M 64/38; Monette 41/19; Waldrop 18/8; Roth 93/68; Holmes 34/27; Taylor 4/2; Munson 13/8; Mata 10/4; Price 4/4.
Umpires - HP: Joe Marion 1B: Todd Drake 3B: Gary Swanson
Start: 3:01 pm