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Posted: Sunday June 17, 2012 12:56AM ; Updated: Sunday June 17, 2012 1:22AM

CWS: South Carolina dumps Florida to extend record win streak to 22

Story Highlights

South Carolina beat Florida 7-3 to extend its NCAA-tourney record streak to 22

The Gamecocks are on the last leg of their pursuit for a third straight NCAA title

DJ Baxendale shut down Kent State to help Arkansas cruise to an 8-1 victory

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Michael Roth
Michael Roth pitched into the seventh inning to help South Carolina earn a 7-3 victory.
Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- 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 over Florida on Saturday night.

South Carolina (46-17) extended its record NCAA-tournament win streak to 22 games by beating its SEC rival and 2011 national runner-up for only the second time in five tries this season.

Roth (8-1), making his eighth appearance in three years in Omaha, 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.

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).

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.

Evan Marzilli hit his second double of the game leading off the fifth, and Johnson walked Adam Matthews to load the bases with none out.

Payne, the designated hitter who appeared in only one of the Gamecocks' previous five games, drove a low liner into the right-center gap. Dantzler then knocked out Johnson with a double to deep center for a 4-2 lead.

Dantzler came home on Chase Vergason's single up the middle off Greg Larson. The five runs matched the most allowed by Florida in an inning this season.

Johnson had beaten the Gamecocks twice this season, allowing a combined four runs and 10 hits over 15 innings. He was charged with all five runs in his four-plus innings Saturday, and the three walks he issued equaled his career high.

The Gators had given Johnson a 2-0 lead in the third. Freshman Tanner English hesitated before giving chase on Preston Tucker's liner to left. The ball went over English's head, allowing two runs to score.

Florida wasn't finished after South Carolina's big inning. Mike Zunino's sacrifice fly got Florida to 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth and looked to add more against Roth in the seventh before Webb came in to settle things down after the Gators put runners on second and third.

Price came on to start the eighth. Marzilli made a full-extension diving catch of Pigott's drive into the left-center gap - the best catch of the CWS so far - to keep the Gators from getting anything started.

The Gators converted a wild pitch and two errors into a couple insurance runs in the ninth.

Price worked around two singles in the ninth for the SEC-record 42nd save of his career.

Roth came into the game with opponents batting just .215 against him. More important, he's a proven CWS stalwart, and there was no question he would get the ball for the Gamecocks' opener.

He started but got no decision in their title-clinching win over UCLA in 2010. Last year he started and won the second game of the Gamecocks' two-game sweep of the Gators.

Roth issued a walk each of the first two innings but was humming along nicely until Tucker's drive to left burned English. Roth allowed three hits on seven hits and three walks.

Arkansas 8, Kent State 1

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Arkansas' DJ Baxendale bounced back from one of his worst starts of the year to turn in his best.

The junior right-hander held Kent State hitless into the fifth inning and combined with Brandon Moore on a four-hitter Saturday in the Razorbacks' 8-1 victory that spoiled the Golden Flashes' first appearance in the College World Series.

Baxendale's performance was a lot different than his previous outing, when he was hit for five runs in four innings in an 8-1 loss to Baylor in the super regionals.

"Against Baylor, I really felt like I let the team down,'' Baxendale said. "To come out here at this stage and be able to get us a victory in Game 1, it was huge for not only my confidence but I think for the team's as well. We know any time you can win the first game, it just keeps building off that.''

Baxendale and Moore got some unexpected help from the bottom of the lineup. No. 9 batter Jake Wise homered for the first time since February and also hit a two-run single. No. 8 batter Matt Vinson hit a two-run double that gave Arkansas (45-20) a 5-1 lead in the sixth.

"My 3 and 4 holers didn't get a hit today and we scored eight runs. Somebody got it going,'' Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "That's a good sign.''

Kent State (46-19), the first team from the Mid-American Conference to make it to the CWS since Eastern Michigan in 1976, couldn't get much going against Baxendale.

Baxendale didn't allow a hit until Sawyer Polen's infield single with two out in the fifth. He held the Flashes scoreless until Jimmy Rider homered in the sixth.

"DJ Baxendale was outstanding,'' Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "He kept us off balance. His fastball was sharp and he throws the breaking ball when he's behind in the count. He really competes.''

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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