Logan Taylor and Sutton Whiting had two RBI each as the No. 2 Louisville baseball team opened its series at NC State with a 4-3 win on Thursday night at Doak Field. With the win Dan McDonnell notched his 400th win of his career.
Making his 10th start of the season in the outfield for the Cardinals (41-13, 24-4 ACC), Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) doubled his RBI total for the season going 1-for-2 with a RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth inning and a run-scoring double in the seventh inning. Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) added a two-run double in the second inning as Louisville equaled the ACC record for conference wins in a single season becoming the sixth team to reach 24 victories.
“I’m always ready when my number is called and tonight, I was able to help our team win. We weren’t at our best, but we earned some walks and we created some chances,” said Taylor. “It’s good that we can find ways to win even we’re not at our very best. Our pitchers really fought, starting with Kyle in the first inning when they loaded the bases. That set the tone early and Burdi shut the door late.”
On the mound, junior righthander Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) finished with seven strikeouts and allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings to earn the win and improve to 7-4 on the season. Funkhouser, worked through bases loaded, no-out situation in the first inning without allowing a run, moved into sole possession of second place in career wins at Louisville with his 25th victory for the Cardinals.
Freshman righty Lincoln Henzman (Lexington, Ky.) followed Funkhouser and allowed only an unearned run in an inning of relief before sophomore righthander Zack Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) recorded the final six outs for his eighth save of the season. Finishing with three strikeouts overall, it was the two-inning save for Burdi.
The Cardinals started the scoring in the second inning on Thursday when Whiting delivered his two-run double to plate senior Mike White (East Orange, N.J.) and sophomore Will Smith (Louisville, Ky.). The inning started with a four-pitch walk to White from Wolfpack starter Cory Wilder, who then hit Smith to put two on base. After Taylor was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Whiting sent a 1-2 offering down the right field line for his 11th double of the season and a 2-0 advantage.
The Wolfpack, who had their nine-game winning streak halted with Thursday’s loss, evened the score in the fourth on a two-run homer to right by Chance Shepard. After Joe Dunand reached base with a one-out single through the left side, Shepard sent a 3-1 pitch from Funkhouser over the wall for his fifth home run of the season. It was the first home run allowed by Funkhouser since April 4, 2014 against Memphis.
Louisville quickly regained the lead in the fifth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly to right field by Taylor to score senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) for the 3-2 edge. Lucas started things with a one-out walk from reliever Ryan Williamson, who followed that by walking White before being replaced on the mound by Joe O’Donnell. Moments later Smith was hit by a pitch load the bases before Taylor sent a 1-0 pitch deep to right field to send Lucas home.
The Cardinals extended the lead in the seventh inning on a two-out RBI double by Taylor to score Lucas for the 4-2 cushion. Another walk from the NC State pitching staff, this one to Lucas, started the frame for Louisville. After moving to second on a passed ball, Lucas took third on a groundout to the right side before scoring when Taylor sent a 2-0 pitch from O’Donnell to the wall in left center.
NC State answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out RBI single to right by Dunand. After Henzman recorded the first two outs of the inning on four pitches, Bubby Riley reached base and moved to second a throwing error by freshman shortstop Devin Hairston (Lexington, Ky.) to extend the inning. Dunand followed by sending the first pitch he saw through the right side to score Riley for their final run of the night.
Sophomore Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) added a hit and two stolen bases to improve to 30-of-37 on the season and move into a tie for fifth for the most steals in a single season at Louisville equaling the total for Curtis Watson in 1985. Freshman Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) reached base safely for the 24th straight game finishing 1-for-4 with a walk.
The Cardinals and Wolfpack will continue their weekend series on Friday at 6:30 p.m., ET. The game will be televised on ESPN3 and aired on 93.9 The Ville.