South Carolina (44-17) needs to defeat the Sooners (42-24) once more to reach its third consecutive College World Series.
LB Dantzler’s RBI double keyed a three-run second inning that was all Roth (7-1) needed. The senior worked 7⅔ innings, giving up six hits.
Roth ran off the mound in the eighth to a loud, standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 8,242 at Carolina Stadium. After shaking hands with coach Ray Tanner, Roth came out to acknowledge the cheers with a wave of his cap.
The Gamecocks are going for a third consecutive college title, something that hasn’t been done since Southern California won five in a row from 1970-74.
Don’t count on Oklahoma going down quietly. The Sooners lost the opener in the Charlottesville Regional last weekend before rallying with four wins in a row to move on.
The Gamecocks will start Colby Holmes, who tossed a one-hitter to beat Manhattan at the regional last weekend, in Game 2 tonight.
Dantzler had an RBI double off Oklahoma starter Jordan John (8-8) to drive in the first run in the second. Erik Payne scored when John bounced a pitch in the dirt that catcher Tanner Toal couldn’t handle, and Chase Vergason had a sacrifice fly to center moments later to bring in Dantzler.
The Gamecocks have won 23 consecutive home NCAA Tournament games, a streak that began exactly 10 years ago Saturday.
The Gamecocks set the NCAA baseball tournament record for consecutive wins in last year’s title run. They’ve kept adding to it this season, going 3-0 in last week’s Columbia Regional with a couple of satisfying wins over rival Clemson, who have accounted for four of South Carolina’s victories during the streak.
Oklahoma had been the last team to beat the Gamecocks in NCAA play with a 4-3 win to start the 2010 College World Series for both teams. Sooners coach Sunny Golloway stirred up some South Carolina fans when he reminded people of his team’s success over the champs in the CWS two years ago.
But the Gamecocks’ offense and Roth’s pitching quickly ended thoughts of an Oklahoma repeat here.
Golloway had to call on Dillon Overton, whom he hoped to save for a possible Game 3 showdown Monday, to start the third because of John’s struggles.
Overton kept the Sooners in it, allowing just two hits in four innings and recording 10 straight outs during one stretch. Oklahoma’s offense – like most opponents the past two years – simply could not master Roth’s pitches. And when the Sooners did mount a rally, it did not last.
Caleb Bushyhead singled in the first and was thrown out easily trying to steal second. Oklahoma had two on with one out in the second, but Garrett Carey flied out to center and Erik Ross grounded out to first.
Tanner Toal led off the third with a single before Max White fouled out attempting to bunt and Roth got Bushyhead to tap a ball back to the mound that the senior lefty turned into an easy double play.
Roth was a little-known reliever back in 2010 who became a Gamecock favorite when he threw a three-hit, complete game victory over Clemson at the College World Series. He’s been South Carolina’s ace ever since, posting a 21-4 mark the past two years.