Five Years Ago Today – CWS Game 5: The Situational Lefty

Michael Roth went from afterthought to legend with one masterful performance. (Photo:
Michael Roth went from afterthought to legend with one masterful performance. (Photo:

In honor of the 5-year anniversary of South Carolina’s 2010 baseball National Championship, TRC is briefly recapping each game of the magical postseason run. Today we look at the first of two games against rival Clemson. 

Prior to their arrival in Omaha, if I had asked you in June of 2010 to name as many members of the South Carolina baseball team as possible, there are a lot of names that would have rolled off your tongue.

Bradley, Walker, Dyson, Cooper, Wingo, Merrifield, Morales, Haney, Price…

Then you would’ve dug a little deeper.

Thomas, Enders, Marzilli, Mata, Jones…

Then you might have started to struggle a little.

Uh, Bangs, Brown, Ebert…

One name you probably would have struggled to come up with was Michael Roth. I know, you diehards stop yelling at the screen, I realize there are some of you who could recite the roster, jersey numbers, statistics, etc., etc., but you know what I’m getting at.

Michael Roth was way down the list of guys you would’ve picked to be our savior at the 2010 College World Series.

After our dramatic win over Oklahoma in 12 innings, USC had to face a harsh reality. We were playing a Clemson team that was undefeated at the CWS and well-rested, only needing to win one of two games against USC to advance to the finals. When Ray Tanner looked at what was left of our pitching staff after two elimination game victories, he couldn’t have felt good about it. No Dyson, no Cooper, no Price…no chance?

His options basically boiled down to senior Jay Brown, and sophomores Steven Neff and Michael Roth. I was a Jay Brown man myself, believing his starting experience would serve us well in that tough environment. But I was more than a little surprised, and maybe even a little upset, when Tanner chose Roth. Even Tanner later admitted he hoped “(Roth) would give us a chance to win through three or four innings, and we’d figure out what we were going to do (after that).”

All Roth did was throw a complete game 3-hitter, giving up only one run to the Tigers. He was magnificent, changing speeds and arm angles for nine innings, baffling the Clemson batters. Meanwhile, the Gamecock offense scored single runs in five of the first six innings and cruised to a stunning 5-1 win to force a winner take all game in their half of the CWS bracket. The other thing Roth did was give the USC pitching staff and bullpen all the rest they would need for the rest of the tournament.

Roth’s performance put the Gamecocks on even terms with the Tigers in terms of games, but there was no doubt USC took a mental advantage into the game two nights later. The ghosts of 2002 were now at Rosenblatt in full force.

NEXT: CWS Game 6: Owning Clemson