- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - Michael Roth plans to celebrate South Carolina’s second straight national championship on the Mediterranean coast.

A little Spanish, a little windsurfing _ all part of his plan while studying abroad in Alicante, Spain.

“I’m not picking up a ball,” Roth said.

Roth and the rest of the pitching staff certainly deserve some rest and relaxation after the job they did this season, which ended with a 5-2 win over Florida on Tuesday night and a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals.

South Carolina had to reset its rotation after losing All-American Blake Cooper and Sam Dyson from 2010’s title team and then readjust as injuries cropped up.

The only sure thing was Matt Price, who has been one of the nation’s top closers for two years.

“From a coaching standpoint, even though you had a good group of core players, you had to pitch,” coach Ray Tanner said. “We knew we had Price at the back end and some setup guys, but our big question was whether we were going to be able to get enough guys up front to support the core group of returners.”

Roth made a successful move from bullpen to starter, a transition that started with two impressive outings in last year’s CWS. He went 14-3 with a 1.03 ERA this season and was the winning pitcher in the title-clinching victory.

“I would have been happy with him even winning eight or nine games. Now he’s won 14,” Tanner said. “He started it for us.”

The Gamecocks also found dependable starters in Forrest Koumas and Colby Holmes after beginning the year with Steven Neff, Tyler Webb and Adam Westmoreland in the rotation.

John Taylor set a school record with 50 appearances out of the bullpen, and Price’s 20 saves were double the number he had last year.

Koumas, who pitched a strong 5 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the finals, was 6-1 as a freshman. Holmes, a sophomore who wasn’t on the 2010 postseason roster because of a hand injury, was 7-3.

The Gamecocks already were without junior Nolan Belcher and freshman Drake Thomason, both of whom had Tommy John surgery before the season. Neff developed a sore bicep and moved to the outfield to shore up another injury-depleted area. Webb also missed time with a bicep problem.

Fortunately, Roth was an anchor from start to finish.

He went 38 1-3 innings without giving up an earned run, and his ERA was lowest in the country among pitchers with more than 55 innings of work.

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