April 11, 2014
Sophomore Kyle Funkhouser allowed just one hit and no runs over his final six innings in winning his sixth straight start.
HOUSTON - The 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team bounced back from an early two-run deficit to earn a 4-2 series-opening victory at No. 7 Houston on Friday night at Cougar Field.
After allowing a pair of runs in the first inning of the top 10 showdown, sophomore righthander Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) was dominant the rest of the way, while the Cardinals (25-8, 5-2 American) used timely hits and a pivotal error by the Cougars (26-7, 4-3 American) to gain command in the middle innings. Surrendering four hits in the two-run first inning, Funkhouser settled down and allowed just one hit over the next six innings while finishing with eight strikeouts overall to win his sixth straight start and improve to 7-1 on the season.
Junior righty closer Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) recorded the final four outs of the game without allowing a hit or a walk to earn his sixth save of the season and the 22nd of his career. He also extended his career-best scoreless streak to 21.1 innings dating back to last season while working more than one inning of relief for the fourth time in his last five appearances.
At the plate, senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI, while senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the winning effort. Freshman outfielder Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) chipped in with a single, an HBP, a run scored and a sacrifice bunt, while junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) walked three times and scored once for Louisville.
Fast out of the gates on Friday night, each of the first four hitters for Houston reached base to begin the first inning despite only the leadoff single to left field by outfielder Kyle Survance leaving the infield in that span. After an infield single to second by Josh Vidales and a bunt single down the third base line by Casey Grayson, designated hitter Justin Montemayor reached base on a glancing RBI infield single off of Funkhouser to score Survance. Shortstop Frankie Ratcliff followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to left field to score Vidales for the 2-0 lead before Funkhouser earned back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
After struggling through the first four innings, the Cardinals finally broke through in the fifth scoring three runs, all of which were unearned thanks to a key two-out error by Houston shortstop Frankie Ratcliff. After a flyout and a groundout started the inning for Louisville, Chittenden reached with a single through the left side and Taylor followed with an infield single on the left side. Moments later, Ratcliff sailed a throw over first and into the Louisville dugout allowing Chittenden to score on a routine groundball off the bat of Whiting that should have ended the inning. Sturgeon then followed with a RBI double down the left field line off Houston righty starter Aaron Garza to score both Taylor and Whiting for the 3-2 lead.
Louisville added to its lead in the seventh inning as Sturgeon connected for a RBI single through the right side scoring Chittenden from second on a close play at the plate, which led to the ejection of Houston head coach Todd Whitting. After the ball rolled just out of the reach of a diving Vidales at second, the throw home by Survance in right field was to the first base side of home plate, where catcher Caleb Barker gloved it and had to reach back to his left to attempt a tag. Chittenden slid under that tag and across the plate for the Cardinals' fourth run of the game, which led to an animated meeting between Whitting and home plate umpire Todd Olinger and the eventual ejection.
Garza was charged with the loss and dropped to 6-3 on the season after allowing four runs, including only one earned, on six hits and two walks in 6.1 innings. After being out-hit 4-1 in the opening inning, Louisville finished the night with an 8-5 advantage in the hit column.
The Cardinals and Cougars will continue their top 10 weekend showdown on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ET, while Sunday's series finale is set for 1 p.m., ET.
Louisville Postgame Notes
- The Cardinals improved to 9-6 this season in games where the opponent scores first.
- Louisville moved to 16-2 against righty starters in 2014.
- The Cardinals have two or fewer earned runs in 18 of 33 games this season.
- Louisville improved to 22-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning and has won 77 straight games when entering the ninth with a lead dating back to 2012.
- The Cardinals improved to 20-0 this season when out-hitting their opponent.
- In nine starts this season, Kyle Funkhouser has 54 strikeouts in 59.0 innings pitched and a 2.75 ERA to go with the 7-1 record on the mound.
- After entering the game 1-for-his-last-17 at the plate in the last five games, Cole Sturgeon had his first three-hit performance since going 3-for-6 against Western Michigan on Feb. 21.
- Chipping in by recoding a pair of outs in a shutout relief outing, Kyle McGrath extended his career-best scoreless streak to 19.2 innings.
- With the 0-for-4 outing on Friday, Jeff Gardner's 10-game hitting streak was halted.