Despite a dramatic ninth inning home run to even the score and extend the game, No. 3 national seed Louisville lost 3-2 in 10 innings to 11th-ranked Cal State Fullerton in game one of Saturday’s NCAA Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Following a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the ninth tied the score at 2-2 from Louisville senior Mike White (East Orange, N.J.), the Titans (38-22) regained the lead for good in the 10th inning when Timmy Richards was hit by a bases loaded, one-out pitch to plate Jerrod Bravo. The Cardinals (46-17), who had their 11-game postseason home winning streak snapped with Saturday’s loss, will look to even the best-of-three series in game two on Sunday at noon ET (ESPN2 or ESPNU).
The decisive 10th inning for the Titans started with a one-out walk to Bravo by freshman righty Lincoln Henzman (Lexington, Ky.). After back-to-back singles from Tanner Pinkston and Hunter Cullen loaded the bases with one out, junior righty Zack Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) entered from the bullpen and hit Richards with his first offering, a fastball registering 100-mph on the Patterson Stadium scoreboard, to score Bravo.
The Cardinals organized a final comeback attempt in the bottom of the 10th putting runners on the corners with two outs. However, closer Tyler Peitzmeier struck out White to end the threat and move Cal State Fullerton within one win of its 17th College World Series appearance. Peitzmeier earned the win and moved to 4-3 on the season after allowing one run on four hits in three innings of relief.
Louisville, which never led on Saturday, scored both of its runs on solo home runs as freshman Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) launched his fourth of the season in the sixth and White connected for his second of the year in the ninth. McKay finished the day 3-for-5 overall, while White was 2-of-5 at the plate.
On the mound, Henzman suffered just his second loss of the season and dropped to 5-2 overall after allowing one run on five hits in 2.1 innings of relief. The run ended a stretch of 27.1 innings of relief without allowing an earned run dating back to March 14.
In what is expected to be the final start at Jim Patterson Stadium for Louisville junior Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.), the righthander finished with a no-decision after striking out five and allowing just two runs on five hits in seven strong innings. Saturday marked the 41st career collegiate start for Funkhouser, tied for the fourth most in school history, while his 281 career strikeouts are second all-time at Louisville.
Louisville had the first scoring chance of the game in the second inning loading the bases with just one out against Cal State Fullerton starter Thomas Eshelman. However, the talented righty struck out Cardinals sophomore Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) before getting a groundout from senior Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) to strand all three runners.
The Titans broke through for the first run of the day in the sixth inning behind three hits and two stolen bases against Funkhouser. David Olmedo-Barerra started things with a one-out single to right and advanced to second on a two-out single to center by Tanner Pinkston. After moving to third with his 13th stolen base of the season, Olmedo-Barerra was driven home on a RBI single to right by Dalton Blaser for the 1-0 lead.
The lead for Cal State Fullerton was short-lived as McKay led off the bottom of the sixth by launching a 2-2 pitch from Eshelman out of the ballpark to even the score at 1-1. McKay turned around a 2-2 offering sending it down the right field line and into the trees for the equalizer.
Cal State Fullerton regained the lead in the eighth with Blaser serving as the hero again delivering a two-out, two-strike RBI single up the middle to score Olmedo-Barerra for the second time in the game. The inning started with a leadoff walk to Olmedo-Barerra on the final batter of the game faced by Funkhouser. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from Bravo and taking third on a wild pitch by Henzman, Olmedo-Barerra was driven home when Blaser bounced a 0-2 pitch from Henzman up the middle and into centerfield.
Facing a one-run deficit with out-out in the ninth, the Cardinals used a home run to even the score for the second time in the game when White connected on an 0-1 pitch from Peitzmeier driving it down the right field line and over the wall to tie the score at 2-2. It was the third career home run for White.
On the mound for the Titans, Eshelman allowed one run on eight hits with five strikeouts in seven innings for the no-decision. At the plate, Blaser was 2-for-4 overall with two RBI, while Olmedo-Barrera singled, walked twice and scored twice.
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