Sophomore right-hander Kyle Funkhouser had 10 strikeouts in eight strong innings to lead the top-seeded Louisville baseball team to a 5-0 victory over No. 4 seed Kent State on Friday night at Jim Patterson Stadium in the final game of the opening day of the NCAA Louisville Regional.
With the win, the Cardinals (46-15) advance to a winner’s bracket matchup against Kansas on Saturday at 5 p.m., ET, while the Golden Flashes (36-22) will face Kentucky in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Tickets for Saturday’s games will be available for purchase at 9 a.m., ET at the Jim Patterson Stadium ticket office.
Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) reached double-figures in strikeouts for the third time this season and the second time in the last four games while allowing just four hits and only one walk to improve to 13-2 on the season. In adding to his school record for wins in a season, the hard-throwing righty lowered his ERA to 1.68 overall to go with 110 strikeouts in 107.1 innings pitched this season. In his last seven starts, Funkhouser has six wins with 0.37 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched.
At the plate, junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) had a pair of doubles and drove in a run, while freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) singled, walked twice, stole two bases and scored once in the win. Freshman outfielder Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) added a two-run single for Louisville, which has won five straight NCAA Championship openers dating back to 2009.
In a game delayed by 3 1/2 hours due to three weather delays earlier in the day, the Cardinals struck first plating two runs in the opening frame with the help of a key defensive miscue by the Golden Flashes. With runners at second and third and two outs, Kent State shortstop Zach Beckner could not corral a spinning bouncer allowing senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.) and senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) to score.
An inning later, Lucas delivered a RBI double down the left field to plate junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) for the 3-0 lead. Whiting started things in the inning with a one-out single to center off Kent State lefty starter Brian Clark and took second with his 34th stolen base of the season before the run-scoring double.
Louisville extended the lead to 5-0 in the third inning after Solak and senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) scored on a RBI single down the left field line by Ray. That was more than enough offense as junior lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky.) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close the Cardinals’ eighth shutout win of the season.
Clark was charged with the loss for the Golden Flashes and dropped to 6-7 on the season after allowing two earned runs and five total runs on four hits in five innings.
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