College World Series 2012: Players Who Must Step Up for Gamecocks to Survive

Austin GreenCorrespondent IJune 25, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 24:  Pitcher Forrest Koumas #17 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts on the mound as he waits for a relief pitcher in the third inning trailing 3-0 against the the Arizona Wildcats during game 1 of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Field on June 24, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks are down, but certainly not out, at the 2012 College World Series.

The two-time defending champs trail Arizona 1-0 in the best-of-three series after losing to the Wildcats 5-1 on Sunday.

While it was a discouraging performance from the Gamecocks, there is still hope for a three-peat. This is a a seasoned group of players, and if the following players step up today, they can even the series.

Joey Pankake - Shortstop

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 24:  Joey Pankake #9 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes a fielding error allowing Trent Gilbert #4 of the Arizona Wildcats to reach base in the third inning during game 1 of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Field on June 24, 2
Harry How/Getty Images

It was a rough day for Pankake, who struggled at the plate and in the field.

He was the Gamecocks fourth best hitter this year, batting for a .268 average. Unfortunately, he went 0-for-4 on Sunday, as he was unable to foil Arizona's Konner Wade.

Pankake also made a critical error in the third inning, mishandling a grounder and allowing Trent Gilbert to get on base. Gilbert scored shortly after, and the Wildcats built a commanding 3-0 lead.

Pankake will have to be much more crisp today for the Gamecocks to win.

Michael Roth - Pitcher

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28:  Pitcher Michael Roth #29 of the South Carolina Gamecocks throws against the Florida Gators during game 2 of the men's 2011 NCAA College Baseball World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 28, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Roth is one of the best and most experienced pitchers in CWS history, so South Carolina will be glad to see him on the hill tonight.

Roth will be making a record-breaking ninth CWS start tonight, and his 52 2/3 career innings pitched in Omaha are the most in tournament history. He's also 8-0 in 11 career NCAA tournament starts, and he's never allowed more than three earned runs or pitched less than five innings.

He was dominant on Thursday when South Carolina eliminated Kent State, pitching a complete game two-hitter. If he can deliver a similar performance tonight, he will put his team in prime position to win their third consecutive title.