Kyle Funkhouser might not have looked much like his usual self in recent weeks, but Friday night he showed why Dan McDonnell didn't think twice about handing the junior righty the ball for game one of the NCAA regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Funkhouser allowed two earned runs on six hits and struck out six in seven innings of work as the Cards took down fourth-seeded Morehead State 7-2. It could have been much closer.
In the top of the 7th inning, with U of L leading 7-2, the Eagles loaded the bases without making an out. McDonnell left Funkhouser in the game, and his "bell cow" responded. Funkhouser got three straight ground outs -- including one he knocked down with his bare hand -- to escape the inning unscathed.
The hero at the plate was an unusual one for the Cardinals, as freshman shortstop Devin Hairston, known far more for his glove than his bat, went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Hairston, who took over as U of L's full-time shortstop in the last month of the regular season, had entered the game hitting below .200.
Louisville will now face third-seeded Michigan in a winner's bracket matchup on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Wolverines took down Bradley 10-5 behind a strong pitching effort from Matt Ogden, who usually works as the team's weekday starter. That move means the Cards will likely face UM ace Brett Adcock, who is 10-4 with a 3.14 ERA on the year.
Here's an updated look at how the regional appears at the moment:
NCAA Baseball Louisville Regional Schedule
Friday, May 29 | (ESPN3)
Game 1: No. 3 Michigan 10, No. 2 Bradley 5
Game 2: No. 1 Louisville 7, No. 4 Morehead State 2
Saturday, May 30 | (ESPN3)
Game 3: No. 2 Bradley vs. No. 4 Morehead State (Elimination Game) - Noon
Game 4: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 3 Michigan - 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 31 | (ESPN3)
Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser - Noon
Game 6: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner - 4 p.m.
Monday, June 1 | (ESPN3) - If necessary
Game 7: Game 6 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner - 6 p.m.