Freshman RHP Kyle Funkhouser
March 20, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Anchored by a quality outing in the first career start for freshman right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, the fourth-ranked Louisville baseball team closed out a two-game midweek sweep of visiting USC with a 6-3 triumph on Wednesday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With their ninth straight win overall, the Cardinals improved to 18-2 to match the best 20-game start in school history, first accomplished by Louisville's 2010 squad, which went on to win a school record 50 games. USC, playing its first games of the season outside the state of California, dropped to 8-13 overall.
"We did it a few ways over the last two days. We got a quality start today and both days, the bullpen did a really nice job," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "We also manufactured runs both days. It wasn't our best offensive or defensive outings, but we seem to do enough to win. We enjoy the competition and these guys seem to thrive in those close games. They've handled the pressure well, so I thought we grew a lot as a club the last two days."
Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest HS) pitched a career long 5.2 innings allowing only three unearned runs on six hits with a career best four strikeouts to earn the victory and improve to 2-0 overall. While the unearned runs were the first runs allowed by Funkhouser, he has not allowed an earned run in seven total appearances and 18.0 innings pitched as a Cardinal. He also has 18 strikeouts while allowing only three walks so far this season.
After scoreless relief appearances from freshman righty Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) and sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS), sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) recorded the final four outs of the game, three on strikeouts to record his fourth save of the season. Overall, Burdi has a staggering 22 strikeouts in eight relief appearances and 10.1 innings pitched while giving up only three hits.
At the plate, senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) was 2-for-3 with his second home run of the season to go with a triple and two runs scored, while junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) added an RBI single and an RBI sacrifice fly while scoring once for the Cardinals.
For the 10th time this season, the Cardinals scored in the first inning plating a run on a single hit against USC righty starter Brooks Kriske. Ratajczak started things for Louisville with his one-out triple to right field before scoring moments later on Young's RBI sac fly to centerfield for the 1-0 edge.
After a pair of scoreless frames from both squads, Louisville pushed its advantage to 3-0 in the fourth. Ratajczak led off the inning with his second home run four games, a solo shot to right field on a 2-1 pitch from Kriske. Young followed with a walk, moved to second with 12th stolen base of the season and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI sac fly to right by freshman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh HS).
The Cardinals added another run an inning later when Crain scored from third on an RBI single up the middle by Young off USC reliever Brent Wheatley. Crain led off the inning with a single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) before advancing to third on a groundout by junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS).
An inning later, the Trojans broke through for their only runs of the day scoring three on three hits and one pivotal Louisville error in the sixth. After Funkhouser retired the first two batters of the inning, first baseman James Roberts extended the inning when he reached base on a fielding error by Whiting on a groundball to his left. After A.J. Ramirez followed with a pinch single to left, Timmy Robinson added an RBI single up the middle to score Roberts for the first run of the inning. Designated hitter Bobby Stahel pulled USC closer with his two-run double to right center to score Ramirez and Robinson. After walks by Kidston to Jake Hernandez and Conner Sullivan loaded the bases, the Cardinals' righty struck out Greg Zebrack to halt the rally.
With the Louisville bullpen preventing any other damage from the Trojans the rest of the way, the Cardinals' offense added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth for the final margin. After Rosenbaum greeted USC reliever Nigel Nootbaar with a double to right center, senior outfielder Matt Helms (Eufaula, Okla./Seminole State CC) reached with a two-out walk. Crain then connected for a two-run double down the right field line to score pinch runner Mike White (East Orange, N.J./Salisbury HS) and Helms.
Kriske to the loss for the Trojans after allowing three runs, all earned, on just two hits and a walk in 3.1 innings. For Louisville, Kidston had three strikeouts in his 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, while Filomeno recorded the first two outs in the eighth inning before Burdi closed it out.
Up next, Louisville will open BIG EAST Conference action with a three-game series at home against Rutgers starting Friday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals and Scarlet Knights will continue the series on Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m., and admission is free throughout the weekend.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- The Cardinals improved to 16-1 at home this season and moved to 196-71 (.734 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- Having lost each of the first five games all-time to USC, all on the road, Louisville won both games this week.
- With a run in the first on Wednesday, Louisville holds a 24-3 scoring edge in the opening frame this season. The Cardinals are 10-0 when scoring in the first inning.
- UofL also has a strong advantage in the eighth inning this season outscoring opponents 28-6 overall, including 2-0 on Wednesday.
- Louisville did not allow an earned run on Wednesday marking the 15th time in 20 games this season the Cardinals have allowed two earned runs or less.
- Through Wednesday's action, Louisville has an overall team ERA of just 1.84, while the Cardinals' bullpen has an even lower 1.38 ERA this season.
- With his 2-for-3 day on Wednesday, Nick Ratajczak earned his team-leading 11th multi-hit performance and his fifth straight.
- Wednesday marked just the third time this season the Cardinals have been out-hit by an opponent. Louisville is 2-1 in those three games.