Coming off an emotional series victory against Clemson, USC baseball coach Ray Tanner reminded his team not to look ahead to next weekend’s SEC-opening series against Georgia.
His veteran club — led by junior left-hander Michael Roth and junior center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — took that advice to heart and defeated Cal State Bakersfield 5-1 Friday night at Carolina Stadium.
“Coach actually got on us a little bit before the game. He was saying, ‘Y’all better not take this team lightly, because they’re coming in here to beat you,’” Bradley said. “We wanted to show him that we were focused and we were ready to play, so we turned it on right before the game. It’s big to be able to get a win on Friday coming off a tough series. Some people usually let down, but we’re staying focused.”
Fourth-ranked USC improved to 10-1 — 9-0 at home — and the Roadrunners dropped to 11-4 after the first meeting between the programs.
Roth threw eight strong innings to pick up his fourth win in four starts. He allowed five hits and one walk while tying a career high with nine strikeouts. The run he allowed was unearned, which dropped his ERA to 0.99.
“We did a great job as a team responding after the intense series we had with Clemson,” Roth said. “I did notice the dugout was a little scatterbrained throughout the game, but the guys that were in there still did a great job of focusing on the task at hand. It’s definitely a testament to the mental makeup of this team.”
Bradley collected three hits: a single, double and homer while driving in three runs. He boosted his batting average to .405, tied Christian Walker for the team lead in homers with four and upped his RBI total to 12.
Bradley also made a spectacular running catch in deep left-center in the seventh to assist Roth, who gave up two hits in the inning but escaped unscathed with a strikeout to end the inning. Bradley tracked down the hard-hit ball by DC Legg on the run before bouncing off the fence.
“I can’t say enough about that play. Jackie made a fantastic play,” Roth said. “It saved a run, maybe a couple. It helped me stay out there.”
Tanner was pleased with how his team met the challenge presented by CSUB, which defeated No. 9 Arizona State this season.
“It wasn’t easy, but we were focused and we were prepared,” Tanner said. “We didn’t get as many hits as they did, but Roth gave us a nice opportunity to win, and, of course, Jackie did it with his bat and his glove. That was a very special performance.”
The Gamecocks increased their lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning on Bradley’s two-run homer to left off starter Mike McCarthy (1-2), who pitched seven innings of four-hit ball. Bradley’s blast came after CSUB shortstop Tyler Shryock made a throwing error on Adam Matthews’ grounder. That was Shryock’s second error of the game, and both led to unearned runs.
McCarthy couldn’t quite match Roth, who retired 13 consecutive batters between the second and sixth innings.
“I had a lot of stuff working today,” Roth said. “The changeup was feeling pretty good, and I was hitting some spots. I was just going out there to try to give the team a chance to win, and I was lucky enough to have some great defense and timely hitting to keep us in the game.”
The Roadrunners took the lead with a run in the first inning. Andrew Letourneau reached second on shortstop Peter Mooney’s throwing error, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an infield single by Jeremy Rodriguez off the glove of Roth.
“We knew Bakersfield was going to be very good based on what they had done to this point in the season,” Tanner said. “We had a couple of days to talk about it and get ready for it since we were rained out on Wednesday. They were very impressive to me.”
USC bounced back in the bottom of the first to grab a lead it didn’t relinquish. Bradley lined a single to center to score Matthews, who had hit his first double of the season. After Bradley stole second, he scored when Shryock dropped a two-out popup by Brady Thomas to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
The second game of the series is 4 p.m. today. USC left-hander Steven Neff (1-0, 4.32 ERA) will face CSUB left-hander Jonathan Montoya (2-0, 2.95).
Ray Tanner postgame
Michael Roth, Jackie Bradley Jr. postgame
|Letourneau, Andrew cf||4||1||1||0||0||2||4||0||0|
|Sanay, Oscar 2b/ss||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||1||0|
|Rodriguez, Jeremy c||4||0||1||1||0||1||7||1||2|
|Medina, Martin dh||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|McIntyre, Ryan rf||4||0||1||0||0||1||6||0||0|
|Legg, DC 3b||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||0|
|Brockmeyer, Cael 1b||4||0||1||0||0||2||3||1||1|
|Younger, Kevin lf||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Gaston, Mick ph/lf||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2|
|Shryock, Tyler ss||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Curtis, Chris ph/2b||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|McCarthy, Mike p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Messmore, Spenser p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Shannon, Nick p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Evan Marzilli lf||5||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||3|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||2||1||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||3||2||3||3||1||0||2||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||0||0||0||0||1||9||0||0|
|Brady Thomas c||3||1||1||0||1||0||11||1||1|
|Adrian Morales 3b||2||0||0||0||2||0||1||2||1|
|Jake Williams dh||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||2|
|DeSean Anderson pr||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||2||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||4||1|
|Michael Roth p||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||0|
E - Shryock 2(4); Mooney(4). DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - CSUB 6; S. Carolina 8. 2B - McIntyre(5); Matthews(1); Bradley Jr.(6). 3B - Thomas(1). HR - Bradley Jr.(4). SH - Sanay(2). SB - Bradley Jr.(1); Anderson(1). CS - Bradley Jr.(1).
|McCarthy, Mike L,1-2||7.0||4||4||2||4||7||0||0||0||0||26||30||8||5||126|
|Michael Roth W,4-0||8.0||5||1||0||1||9||1||0||0||0||28||30||5||9||104|
Win - Roth (4-0). Loss - McCarthy (1-2). Save - None. WP - Roth (1). PB - Rodriguez (3). Pitches/strikes: McCarthy 126/76; Messmore 10/5; Shannon 19/8; Roth 104/69; Taylor 16/12.
Umpires - HP: David Brown 1B: Jamie Roebuck 3B: Perry Ramicone
Start: 7:01 pm