By Dalton Ray–
In game two of the Louisville regional, the University of Louisville defeated Western Michigan 6-1. All-time wins leader Kyle Funkhouser is credited with the win, earning his ninth win of the year. Offensively, U of L had runs-batted-in by Drew Ellis, Corey Ray, Blake Tiberi and Will Smith. Louisville will play Ohio State tomorrow in game four of the regional.
The win now places Louisville at 48-12 on the year and the team is creeping in on the all-time wins record, currently 51. The Cardinals used two runs a piece in three innings to separate from the Broncos. Tiberi had a two-run home run, his ninth of the year, in the bottom of the seventh inning that added cushion for Louisville.
Dan McDonnell was very happy with how his team performed in their weekend opener.
“We played well, we got a great start on the mound from Kyle (Funkhouser) then we had two great hits from Blake (Tiberi) and Drew (Ellis),” he said. “For the most part it was a clean game. We knew Western Michigan would be tough, they battle and they kept it close. We knew we were going to be in a fight and I’m pleased we came out on top.”
The crowd of 4,770 was the ninth largest of all-time and second largest this season for the Cards. The home crowd witnessed U of L get 11 hits; four different Cardinals had two hits or more. Funkhouser said the fans were a big part of the win.
“The crowd is always great. They just really seem to show up and support us and especially in the postseason,” he said. “They get loud and they’re really into it. The fans love their Cardinals and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
In the third inning Ray had a single that brought home Danny Rosenbaum. Smith was the next batter and his ground-out RBI drove in Logan Taylor. The next inning Ellis sent a double to the left field wall that brought home two runners. Louisville led 4-0 after four innings.
Funkhouser was able to play to his defense as they made multiple double-plays and in-field ground-outs. The senior ended the day with eight innings pitched, four hits, one allowed run and six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Freshman Sam Bordner came in the ninth and struck out the final batter.
Western Michigan was able to get on the board in the sixth inning after an RBI single from Connor Smith. The Broncos would only get one more hit the rest of the game.
In the seventh inning Tiberi turned on a pitch and sent it over the right wall. Brendan McKay singled just before Tiberi got to the plate, and Ryan Summer was the pinch runner for McKay. The homer was the final score of the game and U of L eased by after that.
Louisville now advances into the winners bracket with Ohio State, a team U of L and McDonnell is familiar with.
“We have a lot of respect for that team and their conference,” McDonnell said. “What they did in the conference tournament is really impressive, to go through those teams in that short period. It’s going to be a great game.”
U of L and OSU will be the second game tomorrow after Western Michigan and Wright State play. Game three will be at 12 p.m. and game four will be at 4 p.m. Brendan McKay will start tomorrow for the Cardinals.
Photos by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal