Senior righthander Kyle Funkhouser twirled eight strong innings and sophomore Blake Tiberi homered as the No. 2 national seed Louisville baseball team cruised to a 6-1 win against Western Michigan on Friday during the opening day of action at the 2016 NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals (48-12) advance to a winner’s bracket game against Ohio State (44-18-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m., ET, while the Broncos (22-23) will face Wright State (44-16) in an elimination game at noon.
Making his third straight start in an NCAA Regional opener at home, Funkhouser allowed just one run on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks while working eight innings for the second time this season. Friday’s outing, played in front of a standing room only crowd of 4,770, marked the sixth consecutive winning start for Funkhouser, who moved to 9-3 on the season and 35-12 in his collegiate career. A native of Oak Forest, Illinois, Funkhouser also improved to 4-1 in NCAA Championship games.
In his first NCAA postseason start, Tiberi finished 2-for-4 while driving in in two runs with his ninth home run of the season. Tiberi was one of four Cardinals with two or more hits on Friday as redshirt freshman Drew Ellis was 2-for-3 with a two-run double and sophomore Brendan McKay finished 2-of-3 with a run scored. Junior outfielder Corey Ray was 3-for-5 with one RBI and three stolen bases as Louisville out-hit Western Michigan 11-4.
The Cardinals struck first Friday plating a pair of runs in the third inning off Broncos starter Jacob Piechota. Ray started the scoring with a RBI single up the middle to send senior Danny Rosenbaum home and junior Will Smith added a RBI groundout to score junior Logan Taylor. Rosenbaum started the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a walk to Taylor before Ray delivered his 59th RBI of the season. After moving to second on Ray’s single, Taylor swiped third for his 17th stolen base of the season before Smith’s 41st RBI drove him home.
Louisville increased the lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning on a two-out RBI double to left field by Ellis scoring McKay and Tiberi. Following a leadoff single by McKay and a one-out single from Tiberi, Ellis clubbed a 3-2 offering from Piechota over leftfielder Drew Farmer and off the base of the wall doubling the advantage.
Western Michigan broke through for its only run of the game in the sixth inning when Farmer scored on a two-out RBI single to left by Connor Smith. After reaching base with a one-out infield single, Farmer moved to second on a groundout by Nick Vogelmeier before Smith drove him home for his 24th RBI of the season.
The Cardinals extended the lead to 6-1 in the seventh inning on a two-run homer to right field by Tiberi. Following a leadoff single, McKay was replaced by pinch runner Ryan Summers, who stole second before Tiberi powered a 2-1 pitch Jake Bartels over the right field wall for his 13th career home run.
Freshman righty Sam Bordner pitched a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout to close the game for the Cardinals. Piechota took the loss for the Broncos and dropped to 10-4 on the season allowing four runs on six hits in 3.2 innings.
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