Freshman Devin Hairston was 4-for-4 with two doubles and junior righty Kyle Funkhouser pitched seven strong innings to lead No. 3 national seed Louisville team to a 7-2 win over Morehead State in the Cardinals’ NCAA Regional opener Fridayevening at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals (44-16) will face Michigan (38-23) on Saturday at 4 p.m., in a winner’s bracket matchup in the Louisville Regional. The Wolverines opened the weekend with a 10-5 win over Bradley on Friday afternoon.
Hairston (Lexington, Ky.) doubled his previous career-high in hits and matching career highs with the pair of doubles and two runs scored.Friday marked the first multi-hit game for Hairston since his two-hit performance at Virginia on April 4, which was also his most recent multiple RBI game.
Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) allowed two earned runs on six hits and struck out six in seven innings of work to improve to 8-5 on the season. It was the longest outing for Funkhouser since his complete game win over Bethune-Cookman on April 24. With Friday’sperformance, Funkhouser moved into sixth place in career innings pitched at Louisville with 280.1.
At the plate, sophomore Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored, while senior Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) and sophomores Corey Ray and Will Smith added one RBI each. On the mound, freshman Lincoln Henzman (Lexington, Ky.) struck out two in two shutout innings of relief to earn his second save of the season. Henzman has not allowed an earned run in a relief appearance since March 14 against Boston College, a span of 15 outings and 25 innings.
After a scoreless first inning, the Cardinals broke through with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) walked and came around to score on Hairston’s two-out double down the left field line. Taylor followed with an RBI hit to give Louisville a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals added two more runs in the third. Sophomore Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) reached on an error to start the home half of the inning and Ray followed with his fifth triple of the season to bring Solak home. Smith’s RBI hit plated Ray to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
Morehead State got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Kane Sweeney connected on a one-out shot over the right field wall for his 15th home run of the season to make the score 4-1.
The fourth inning brought another unearned run for the Cardinals. Senior Mike White (East Orange, N.J.) reached on a two-base error to start the inning and moved to third on Hairston’s infield hit. A wild pitch sent White home to bump Louisville’s lead to 5-1.
The Eagles added a run in the sixth when Sweeney delivered an RBI single to make the score 5-2. Braxton Morris reached on a fielder’s choice, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a groundout to set up Sweeney’s second RBI of the game.
Morehead had a chance to push more runs across in the seventh when hits by Chris Robinson, Robby Spencer, and Nick Newell loaded the bases with no outs to start the inning. Funkhouser enticed Alex Stephens and Clayton Meyer to hit into fielders’ choices which saw outs at the plate and then got Braxton Morris to ground out to escape the jam.
The Cards tacked on two more runs in the eighth when Hairston, Taylor and Whiting delivered consecutive one-out doubles to make the score 7-2.
Morehead starter Luke Humphreys (7-3) took the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, on seven hits and striking out two in 6.0 innings of work. Sweeney paced the Eagles with a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance at the plate. Morehead State (38-21) will face Bradley (35-20) in an elimination game Saturday at noon.