BLOG: Hello from sunny Oxford, Miss., where the defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks (36-8 overall, 17-4 SEC) are set to play a three-game series with the Rebels (25-20, 9-11). The Gamecocks enter this weekend’s series against Ole Miss riding a six-game winning streak and are 10-2 in their last 12 games.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, will be looking to somehow muster up a competitive series after getting drilled at Florida to the tune of 24-6.
Like Ole Miss, who is without Matt Smith for at least two weeks after fracturing his third metacarpal in his left hand on Wednesday at Arkansas State, South Carolina will be without its leader in top prospect Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Bradley injured his wrist earlier this season and is likely out for the remainder of the year.
TAKING THE MOUND: Ace left-hander Michael Roth will be taking the mound for South Carolina today. Roth has to be in contention for the conference’s Pitcher of the Year award after posting a 9-1 record and a 1.24 ERA, striking out 72 and walking 19 in 79.2 innings of work.
Last season Roth pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings against Ole Miss, striking out two while allowing two hits on May 26.
Starting for Ole Miss will be usual Friday night guy Matt Crouse.
After starting the season in dominant fashion, the junior left-hander has slowed considerably in recent weeks and enters this weekend with a 6-3 record and a 3.41 ERA. Crouse has struck out 48 and walked just 12 in 71.1 innings of work.
OLE MISS (25-20, 9-11)
CF Tanner Mathis .348 BA
SS Blake Newalu .303
2B Alex Yarbrough .331
DH Matt Snyder .278
1B Will Allen .259
RF Matt Tracy .292
LF Preston Overbey .242
C Miles Hamblin .248
3B Austin Anderson .224
LHP Matt Crouse (6-3, 3.41 ERA)
SOUTH CAROLINA (36-8, 17-4)
SS Peter Mooney .282
2B Scott Wingo .317
1B Christian Walker .386
C Brady Thomas .326
LF Jake Williams .286
3B Adrian Morales .289
CF Evan Marzilli .278
RF Robert Beary .283
DH DeSean Anderson .167
LHP Michael Roth (9-1, 1.24)
USC 1, Ole Miss 0 (TOP 1): With two outs, Brady Thomas singled up the middle to score Scott Wingo from second base.
USC 2, Ole Miss 0 (TOP 2): South Carolina strung together two hits to lead off the second, and a sacrifice fly to center field by DeSean Anderson scored Evan Marzilli from third.
USC 2, Ole Miss 1 (BOTTOM 3): Ole Miss broke up the shutout in the bottom of the third when Miles Hamblin led off the frame with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by Austin Anderson.
USC 3, Ole Miss 1 (TOP 6): South Carolina right fielder Robert Beary added to South Carolina’s advantage with an RBI-single to the outfield that scored Adrian Morales from second base.
USC 5, Ole Miss 1 (TOP 7): Christian Walker‘s double to the gap in right field scored Wingo, pushing the Gamecocks’ lead to 4-1. With relief pitcher Eric Callender in the game Jason Williams tapped a single over a drawn-in infield, scoring Walker from third.
USC 6, Ole Miss 1 (TOP 8 ): Beary scored on a single by Wingo in which Callender fielded a chopper in front of the mound, fell, and was unable to make a play at home or first base.
Ole Miss was unable to get anything going offensively the remainder of the game, falling to South Carolina 6-1.
Crouse (6-4) was saddled with the loss, surrendering five runs on nine hits and two walks in 6.0 innings.
South Carolina lefty Michael Roth earned the win, scattering six hits and one walk over 8.0 innings. He also struck out six.
“I didn’t feel real comfortable up until about the sixth inning,” Roth said. “I don’t know if it took my arm 70 pitches to get loose or if I just started doing something right mechanically, but my changeup was working pretty much all night and I was spotting the fastball well and was spotting pitches when I had to to keep them off base.”
Added South Carolina coach Ray Tanner: “He was able to mix a little bit. He stuck some fastballs when he needed to, but his changeup was really good. He threw a few sliders for strikes. They took some good swings against him that were located well, but that was the key. Other than a couple of opportunities they had he located. His stuff was pretty good and he got us deep into the game.”
Tomorrow’s game is set for a 2 p.m. start and will be televised on SportSouth. (May 6, 2011)