Bruins face elimination Tuesday night
OMAHA, Neb. -- South Carolina grabbed the momentum with a 7-1 victory over UCLA in Game 1 of the College World Series championship series Monday night at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Patrick Green/Icon SMIUCLA will likely turn to junior left-hander Rob Rasmussen as the Bruins try to stave off elimination tonight.
Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner gambled that senior Blake Cooper would be ready to match UCLA ace Gerrit Cole. The decision paid off as Cooper took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and pitched into the ninth in a dominating performance.
After Monday game, neither Tanner nor UCLA coach John Savage were ready to name a starter for Game 2.
With a one-game cushion, Tanner doesn't have to rush No. 2 starter Sam Dyson to the mound for Tuesday night's game. Tanner went as far as saying that his team would probably trot a left-handed pitcher out to the mound. All signs point to Michael Roth (2-1, 1.27 ERA) getting the baseball. Roth, a sophomore from Greer, S.C., was spectacular in his last CWS appearance, throwing a complete game, three-hitter in South Carolina's 5-1 win over Clemson on Friday. In what was his first start of the season, Roth allowed only one earned run with one walk and four strikeouts.
Savage said sophomore Trevor Bauer, who already has won twice in Omaha, would not be available for tonight's game. Bauer threw 135 pitches in a 10-3 win over TCU on Saturday after tossing 128 pitches in a 11-3 win over Florida on June 19. Bauer had 24 strikeouts in his first two CWS games.
Rob Rasmussen, a left-handed junior from Arcadia, Calif., will probably take the mound for the Bruins. Rasmussen (11-3, 2.87 ERA) was a tough-luck loser in UCLA's first defeat at the CWS, allowing six hits and three runs in a 6-2 loss to TCU on Friday. He threw 95 pitches in the game.
The Gamecocks have struggled recently against left-handed power pitchers like Rasmussen, who has 123 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. Auburn's Grant Dayton and Ole Miss' Drew Pomeranz each silenced USC's bats while leading their teams to late-season victories over the Gamecocks.
The strategy for the Bruins tonight is simple: Beat the Gamecocks and get to Bauer, who has been the most dominating pitcher in Omaha.
South Carolina would obviously prefer to finish things tonight so it wouldn't have to face Bauer in a winner-take-all game Wednesday night.