2-time defending champ SC beats Gators 7-3 at CWS

Associated Press Modified: June 17, 2012 at 1:01 am •  Published: June 17, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Never mind that South Carolina had lost three of its four previous games with SEC rival Florida.

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 straight national title with a 7-3 win on Saturday night.

South Carolina (46-17) extended its record NCAA-tournament win streak to 22 games and will try to add to it Monday 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 CWS appearance in three years, started and won the 2012 national title-clinching game against Florida. The year before he started but got no decision in the championship game against UCLA.

Roth, who had allowed five earned runs in 38 1-3 previous CWS innings, wasn't as dominating as he's been known to be at the CWS. 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.

"I'd like to be a little better," Roth said, "but you just have to go out there and grind it out and Florida's a great hitting team."

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).

"There's a reason why they have such a winning streak postseason," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They had some momentum there in the fifth, and it felt like it just got passed down from guy to guy. Obviously we weren't able to stop it there in the fifth, and that was probably the difference in the ball game."

After batting just .219 in losing three of their first four against the Gators this season, the Gamecocks had 12 hits against six pitchers.

The Gamecocks were 0 for their first 9 with runners in scoring position Saturday and they stranded seven through four innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the first.

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