It was the bottom of Arizona’s batting order. So Michael Roth’s third inning probably should have been easiest of the night for the South Carolina starter.
That’s what the stat-sheet indicated, anyway.
But the guys in those final three spots executed exactly the way coach Andy Lopez draws it up in practice.
First baseman Joseph Maggi ended a streak of 28 straight batters retired by Roth (dating back to Thursday’s Kent State game), poking a high fastball down the third-base line for a double. Catcher Riley Moore bunted him to third and second baseman Trent Gilbert drove Maggi in.
So Arizona’s up 1-0 as we head to the fourth inning. The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning Sunday before earning a 5-1 victory.
Yet another slow start for the Gamecocks, who’ve allowed their opponents to score first in all but one of their six CWS games.
Roth has still be great early on, as expected. He’s thrown 39 pitches (27 for strikes) through three innings of work, striking out two and giving up just one hit.
And often, when he gives up a run, the inner-competitor emerges and Roth tends to get even tougher to hit. That’s what happened in the 4-1 win over Kent State, when he set down the final 22 he faced in a complete game effort.
South Carolina needs some offense now, though.