Former South Carolina pitcher Michael Roth has had plenty of stressful moments on the pitching mound, but he was nervous for a reason that had nothing to do with baseball this past weekend.
Roth proposed to his girlfriend Rachel Sanna in Greenville, and she said yes. A small party followed to celebrate the occasion.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking just because you want everything to go smoothly,” he said. “You want every plan that you’ve kind of set to go in motion to go on without a hitch. That was kind of why it was a little bit nerve-wracking, but it was a really cool experience and a really fun night.”
Rachel attended USC, graduating in 2014. The two began dating after Roth’s first year of pro baseball when he returned home to train and hang out in Columbia during the offseason.
“She was a roommate of one of my friends,” Roth said. “She was a mutual friend and we’ve pretty much been together ever since.”
Roth is getting back to work. He’s leaving for the Dominican Republic on Sunday to play in the Winter League. Roth had an up-and-down 2015 season with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and is eager to get back on the mound.
He finished the year 9-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 124 1/3 innings pitched. Roth opened the season in the starting rotation before moving to the bullpen.
“The first two months went pretty well for me, and then right about mid-June is when I started to struggle,” he said. “From then on, I just didn’t pitch the ball well. I didn’t finish up with a great season, but that’s just sometimes how baseball goes. You just have to handle the ups and downs. That’s part of being an athlete and part of dealing with a season.”
Roth said some of his struggles were because of a tweak in his mechanics, a move that backfired. The Columbus Clippers also went through several pitching coaches, which provided another challenge.
“I think for me it was I was trying to be someone I wasn’t on the mound,” Roth said. “I tried something in my mechanics, and I basically lost the rhythm and feel that I’ve always had as a pitcher. With that went my command of numerous pitches,” he said. “Instead of just kind of closing my mind to those things, I just let it unravel.”
Roth said he believes he will get back to the form that allowed him to reach the major leagues in his second year of pro baseball.