The Gamecocks are back in Omaha, a place they love and know well, and they foiled the Gators here again.
Michael Roth turned in another strong College World Series start, Erik Payne’s bases-loaded triple scored the go-ahead runs and South Carolina began the last leg of its pursuit of a third consecutive national title with a 7-3 win Saturday night.
South Carolina (46-17) extended its record win streak in the NCAA tournament to 22 games and will try to add to it tonight against Arkansas, another one of its Southeastern Conference brethren.
“I know we’ve had a pretty good run, but it doesn’t feel like that,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “It’s kind of like we’re getting to play baseball, having fun. Our season has been extended. We just try to play hard and play with some awareness and hope some good things happen. We’ve had a little luck along the way.”
There was never any doubt Roth (8-1) would get the ball against the top-seeded Gators. The stalwart, making his eighth appearance in a CWS game in three years, started and won the 2011 national title-clinching game against Florida. The year before that, he started but got no decision in the championship game against UCLA.
Roth, who had allowed five earned runs in 38⅓ previous CWS innings, wasn’t as dominant as he’s been known to be here. But he was good enough.
He left with one out in the seventh after Florida’s first two batters reached in a two-run game. Tyler Webb got the Gamecocks out of trouble, and Matt Price pitched the last two innings for his 12th save of the season and SEC-record 42nd of his career.
Payne’s triple off Brian Johnson (8-5) highlighted a fifth inning in which the Gamecocks turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead over the Gators (47-19).
FLORIDA STATE 12, STONY BROOK 2
Florida State coach Mike Martin figured his team would have to put in a hard afternoon’s work in the heat to beat Stony Brook and stay alive in the College World Series. It turned out to be no sweat at all.
The Seminoles used shortstop Cole Peragine’s throwing error to fuel a six-run third inning and end Stony Brook’s surprise appearance.
“It was something that I wasn’t expecting,” Martin said. “It certainly was a great lift for our team.”
Justin Gonzalez and Devon Travis homered to help the Seminoles build an early 9-0 lead against the CWS first-timers from Long Island.
ARIZONA 4, UCLA 0
Konner Wade pitched a five-hit shutout, Arizona did its scoring on five consecutive fourth-inning hits, and the Wildcats beat Pac-12 rival UCLA.
The win puts the Wildcats (45-17) in control of Bracket 1 and gives them three days off. They are one victory away from the best-of-three finals, in which they would play for their fourth national championship and first since 1986.
UCLA (48-15), which lost for the first time in 11 games, will play Florida State in an elimination game on Tuesday.