In light of the new developments in today’s Kent State game, I had a few more thoughts I wanted to pass along before the game gets going.
This Roth thing may not be so bad after all
Ray Tanner elected to start Michael Roth in the game against Kent State today rather than saving him for a potential nighttime matchup against Arkansas. Both games would be elimination contests for the Gamecocks, so in theory neither is more important than the other. I firmly believed that South Carolina was good enough to beat Kent State with freshman lefty Jordan Montgomery on the mound and that it would be best to save the team’s ace for the potential matchup with the Hogs.
But I think Tanner may be on to something here. As some of our Twitter followers pointed out last night, there’s no need to worry about a potential second matchup if you don’t win the first. South Carolina MUST win this morning to advance, and Michael Roth certainly gives the Gamecocks the best chance to do that. Roth has pitched against Arkansas numerous times in his career, so the team’s veteran hitters have had plenty of chances to get used to his “stuff.” His most difficult outing of the year came in the Friday night contest against Arkansas in Fayetteville, in which he gave up 6 runs on 6 hits in just 6.0 innings, walking 4 and failing to strike out a single batter. Perhaps Tanner thinks that Montgomery, who the Hogs have only seen once (he took the loss in the Saturday game in that same series, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits in 5 1/3 innings), gives South Carolina the better chance to win that potential game as well. And you can be sure that Roth had a vote in the decision as well. A big performance from the do-everything senior could give the Gamecocks a huge boost in momentum going into the potential night game against the Razorbacks, who won’t have seen the field in a competitive game in 72 hours.
3 in 33
The Gamecocks have been no stranger to adversity or improbably situations during their run to two consecutive national titles, and were served a heapin’ helping last night. South Carolina now much win 3 games over a span of 33 hours if it is to advance to the championship series against either Arizona or Florida State. It is the first time since 1980 that a team at the College World Series has been asked to play two games in a single day. Can they do the unthinkable and win their way into the championship series? Sure, it’s not likely, but if we’ve learned anything over the past three years, it’s not to mess with these guys when their backs are to the walls. ‘Cause that’s when they’re at their best.