• Photo Showcase: South Carolina vs. Florida, June 16
• Box Score: South Carolina 7, Florida 3
• Listen: South Carolina postgame, Florida postgame
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South Carolina's NCAA tournament express just keeps chugging along.
The two-time defending national champion Gamecocks combined another solid College World Series start by Michael Roth with a five-run fifth inning Saturday night in posting a 7-3 victory over Florida before 25,291 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
The victory extended South Carolina's record tournament winning streak to 22 and put the 46-17 Gamecocks into a Monday night Bracket Two winners game against Arkansas.
“I know we've had a pretty good run, but it doesn't feel that way,'' South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “I don't think our guys approach it that way. They don't get caught up in the things we can't control.
“We just try to play hard and try to play with some awareness and hope some good things happen. And as I've said before, we've got some good players. We've done some good things, but we've also had some good fortune.''
Florida, the tournament's top-seeded team, squandered an early lead in dropping to 47-19 and into a battle for survival Monday against Kent State, which dropped its CWS debut to Arkansas 8-1 in Saturday's first game.
The Gators, who had beaten South Carolina in three of four meetings this season, expect to get another shot at the Gamecocks before the tournament is over.
“Obviously you have to have pitching in this tournament to win ballgames,'' Florida right fielder Preston Tucker said. “I think that's one thing our team has. Obviously, it's going to be tough, but it's been done before.
“And I think if anyone can do it, we can.''
Saturday, it was the quality of South Carolina's pitching that trumped Florida's quantity. The Gators used six pitchers, with the Gamecocks getting their first five runs off Florida starter Brian Johnson in the fifth inning. South Carolina added two deal-sealing runs in the ninth without hitting a ball out of the infield.
Meanwhile, Roth, Tyler Webb and Matt Price kept Florida's potent lineup in check. Roth fell behind 2-0 in the third inning when left fielder Tanner English misplayed Tucker's potential inning-ending line drive, leading to a two-run double.
Roth, making his eighth appearance over the past three seasons in Omaha, picked up his third CWS win by grinding out 6.1 innings and allowing seven hits.
“Obviously, I'd like it to be better,'' Roth said, referring to the 98-pitch performance that improved his record to 8-1 this season. “Florida is a great hitting team, and I just tried to keep them off balance.''
Roth left with runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, and Webb needed just six pitches — four of which came on an intentional walk to Mike Zunino — to get out of the inning. Webb got Tucker to fly out to left on his first pitch and Johnson to line out to right on his last.
Price threw the final two innings to pick up his 12th save of the season and the 42nd of his career, setting a Southeastern Conference record.
South Carolina went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the first four innings against Johnson. The Gamecocks broke through in the fifth as Evan Marzilli's double, Christian Walker's single and a walk loaded the bases to open the inning.
That brought up designated hitter Erik Payne, playing in just his second tournament game. He came to the plate 1 for 5 with three strikeouts in postseason play but lashed a triple into right-center field to erase the 2-0 deficit.
“I was trying to work the whole field,'' Payne said. “I got a fastball that I could drive and I split the gap. I was fortunate enough that it fell.''
LB Dantzler followed with a double to deep center field to score Payne, and he came around to score on Chase Vergason's RBI single to make it 5-2.
Florida got a run back in its half of the fifth but couldn't get any closer. The Gators left nine runners on base, while South Carolina, which had runners in scoring position every inning but the eighth, stranded 12.
After a day of rest, South Carolina will put its record streak on the line against another SEC opponent in Arkansas. The Gamecocks won two of three on the Razorbacks' home field during the regular season.
“Arkansas is a great team,'' Marzilli said. “We saw that when we went to Fayetteville. It's going to be a battle, just like every other SEC game we have. It's going to be a tough one so we'll have to be ready.''
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