OMAHA, Neb. | South Carolina ace Michael Roth will start Game 2 of the College World Series championship series against Florida tonight.
Coaches said after Monday's 2-1 win that left-hander Roth (13-3, 0.98) or right-hander Colby Holmes (7-3, 3.69) were the options for the second game. USC announced Roth as the choice Tuesday morning.
The teams play the second game of the series today at 8 p.m. Florida will throw right-hander Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.43 ERA).
Roth will be pitching on three days rest. After Monday's game he told coach Ray Tanner he was ready to pitch.
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"Whether I'll be throwing [Tuesday] or Wednesday it won't make a difference," Roth said. "I threw on four days on Friday and only threw 90 pitches. That's one of the lowest pitch totals I've had all year. ... I feel great and I'm ready to go."
Pitching coach Jerry Meyers after Monday's game said Roth's pitch count from Friday is about 75 percent of the normal workload.
"He's not a hard thrower. He bounces back quick," Meyers said.
USC (54-14) won two of three in the regular-season series in Gainesville in March over the Gators (53-18).
Matt Price, Michael Roth after Monday's game
Walker heals up
Doctors determined Monday morning that first baseman Christian Walker has a hamate fracture in his left wrist. It is a similar injury that sidelined center fielder Jackie Bradley for six weeks, including the first two weeks of the 2010 season.
Dr. Chris Mazoue and Dr. John Walsh checked Walker’s wrist Monday afternoon, and he took batting practice before Game 1 of the series. Walker hit five home runs during the batting practice session, thus securing his spot in the starting lineup.
USC coach Ray Tanner credited the work of Mazoue and Walsh on Tanner’s pregame radio show with the USC radio network.
“It’s miraculous. He’s fine,” Tanner said. “I know he’s probably not 100 percent, but he’s good to go.”
Taylor closing in on record
Right-handed relief pitcher John Taylor has a chance to tie the national record for most appearances in a single season. He could reach the record of 51 games, but the championship series would have to go to a third game.
The rubber-armed Taylor, who pitched in each of USC’s first three games in Omaha, made his 49th appearance on Monday night, which is the second most in NCAA history. That total is three behind Florida’s Connor Falkenbach in 2005.
Double the power
There are a couple explanations why two teams from the same conference rarely meet in the College World Series final.
First, it is extremely difficult to have two powerhouses from the same league. The only previous times it happened were when fellow Pac-10 members Stanford and Arizona State met in 1988 and Southern California and Arizona State played in 1998, as well as SEC schools LSU and Alabama in 1997.
Also, it was not possible, prior to 1975, for two members from the same conference to meet because of tournament restrictions.
Prior to tournament expansion to 32 teams in 1975, only one representative from each league qualified for the field. The at-large pool continued to grow with expansion to 48 teams in 1987 and 64 teams in 1999.
Second baseman Scott Wingo was asked about the new bats in college baseball this season that have brought batting averages, home runs and run production down dramatically from a season ago.
Wingo was the wrong guy to ask. In his previous three seasons, Wingo batted .230, .196 and .247 for a career batting average of .226. Yet Wingo soared this season and now carries a .341 average at the College World Series.
“I don’t know how, but I’ve hit better than I’ve ever hit, so I’m probably a bad person to ask on that one,” Wingo said.
One theory for Wingo’s success is he represents the type of hitter who can now thrive in the new game. He slaps the ball around the outfield, works the count in his favor by fouling off pitches and does not swing big for home runs that are no longer attainable with the new bats.
Horn in the house
USC basketball coach Darrin Horn arrived in Omaha for the championship series. Horn also attended the College World Series a year ago along with football coach Steve Spurrier and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.
The latter two were unable to attend this year, Spurrier because of a family cruise and Staley because of a camp commitment.
Taste of Omaha: $5 T-shirts?
With the College World Series down to its final couple of days, the streets around TD Ameritrade Park are less crowded with only two teams remaining.
A number of people were taking a Monday afternoon stroll around the souvenir tents that surround the stadium, however, still looking for merchandise. Fans could get good deals on the hats and T-shirts of the six eliminated teams: Virginia, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Cal, Texas A&M and Texas. Most of that stuff was half-price. The really cheap fans could even buy merchandise from previous CWS for five bucks.
But the South Carolina and Florida clothing was still full price. USC fans outnumbered Gator fans at the park.
The vendors are still getting used to the new digs. One vendor spoke of better walk-up business in the 13th Street area across from Rosenblatt Stadium in prior seasons. It didn’t help sales this season that there were no Saturday games.
Of course, the cheapest prices of all will come at the conclusion of the CWS, although the fans of the team that wins will have to pay full-freight on those national championship T-shirts.