South Carolina repeats as CWS champion

South Carolina repeats as CWS champion

South Carolina repeats as CWS champion
OMAHA, Neb. -- South Carolina, which rode unlikely escapes and late-inning rallies to a record postseason winning streak, needed no such drama Tuesday to clinch its second straight College World Series title. The Gamecocks' 5-2 win over the Florida Gators completed a two-game sweep of the championship series and a capped their near-perfect title defense.

South Carolina tied Monday's opener in the eighth before winning in 11 innings, but it rode the pitching of Michael Roth to control Tuesday's game from the outset. The left-hander, a 31st-round pick of the Indians in this year's First-Year Player Draft, filled a middle-relief role when the Gamecocks arrived at Rosenblatt Stadium last year. After winning the clincher at the new TD Ameritrade Park, he now has 38 1/3 innings of College World Series experience -- and only five earned runs against him.

After two Florida errors led to the decisive run in the opener, South Carolina took advantage of another Florida miscue to give itself some breathing room with a rally in the third inning. Second baseman Scott Wingo, an 11th-round pick of the Dodgers, opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly. Jackie Bradley Jr., a supplemental first-round pick of the Red Sox, followed with a two-out walk. Christian Walker, playing with a broken hamate bone in his left hand, hit a chopper that bounced under the glove of Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana. An RBI single by Brady Thomas made it 3-0, and the Gamecocks didn't look back.

"We wanted to start off hot and get on them quick," said Wingo, a senior who was named the CWS most outstanding player. "I had a really good at-bat that second time up, and I just tried to step up for us."

South Carolina won its opener against Texas A&M on Wingo's walk-off single and advanced to the championship series with a 13-inning walk-off win against Virginia.

"A little magic here, a little magic there," Bradley said. "I don't know how we do it, but we do it."

"I think it was perspective more than anything else," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "We've been there so many times in close games down the stretch. We got a little lucky, too. You can do the right things on the mound. You can have your guys in the right spot, but they've got to make plays, too."

Roth, who allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings Tuesday, saw his ERA rise -- from 0.98 to 1.06. He allowed a Mike Zunino homer and saw an inherited runner come around to score after he left in the eighth. Matt Price, a sixth-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, capped a busy week with the save.

"When I look back on it, I don't think I pitched overly well," Roth said. "But I made some pitches when I had to, and I had some solid defense behind me. I wasn't hitting my spots great. But I just went out there and tried to fight."

Roth, a junior, leaves Friday for Spain to study "Spanish and windsurfing." The five-week program is required for his international business major, and his baseball obligations precluded his leaving during the academic year. He said he would not pick up a ball and let his mother, who "negotiates contracts for a living," talk to the Indians.

Tanner said Florida, which went 0-2 in last year's College World Series, would be back in Omaha soon. The Gators have plenty of returning talent. Nick Marone, the 104th overall Draft pick, was the highest Gator selected. Zunino, the Southeast Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore, will be back. Sophomore Hudson Randall and freshman Karsten Whitson -- Florida's two starting pitchers in the championship series -- will, as well. Both were drafted out of high school but decided to attend Florida.

"I feel bad about the guys that our leaving our program, but we have a great nucleus coming back," said Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "On our way home, we'll already be talking about next year."

South Carolina, which became the first team since Oregon State (2006-07) to repeat as national champions, found itself talking about last year as much as this year. South Carolina has won 16 straight NCAA tournament games and 11 straight College World Series Games, both records. Tanner downplayed the accomplishment.

"We never thought that we were an awesome team. We just thought we were good enough to win at times," he said. "When the opportunity would present itself, we could try to find a way late in the game to win."

His second baseman, however, begged to differ.

"I'd say we're pretty awesome," Wingo said. "I think our talent might not be a bunch of first-rounders, but I think I'd play with these guys more than any other team."

Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.