Late Rally Lifts Louisville
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
oh-so-sweet suicide squeeze and a big hit by a freshman put No.
10 Louisville one win away from a return trip to Omaha for the
College World Series after a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State Friday
his team down 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the eighth,
Cardinals senior Kyle Gibson laid down a perfect bunt to score
junior Grant Kay from third and reach base safely.
knew it was coming, but you can’t defend against something like
that,” Kennesaw coach Mike Sansing said. "We had our third
baseman in, but the placement of it was perfect. You put one
down in that triangle right there, you can't do a whole lot
said, “Right before I went up there, Coach Mac [Dan McDonnell]
told me, ‘You are the best bunter on the team. Well, maybe
second to Cole [Sturgeon].’ After he said that I wanted to prove
Gibson’s bunt tied the score at 3 and put runners on first and
second with one out. After a ground out by senior Cole Sturgeon
pushed the runners to second and third, freshman Nick Solak
belted a double to right center to put Louisville (49-15) ahead
don’t know, I’m just seeing the ball well,” Solak said, adding
“I looked up and I saw white towels waving everywhere in the
crowd. It was awesome. It was cool.”
three-run eighth inning put Louisville up 5-3 heading into the
top of the ninth. Louisville last lost a lead in the ninth
inning in May of 2012 (42-0 this season).
record crowd of 5,351 fans rose to their feet as the Cardinals
brought in triple-digit-velocity closer Nick Burdi for the final
three outs. Burdi, a junior who was just drafted in the second
round (46th overall pick) by the Minnesota Twins,
struck out the first two batters before getting a pop-up for the
third out a batter later.
was an exciting game,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said.
“Seeing our fans and all the excitement – it was a fun game to
be a part of. These were two teams with a lot of talent who
believed in themselves... fortunately we were able to put
something together there at the end and get the W.”
Trailing for most of the game as they stranded nine runners in
the first seven innings, the Cardinals had a brief 1-0 lead in
the bottom of the third inning when Gibson scored from second on
a RBI single to left field by Solak.
Kennesaw State (40-23) answered with a pair of runs in the top
of the fourth when Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser walked the
first two batters, Kai Simmons and Jacob Bruce, who advanced on
a single by Bo Way. A single by Chris McGowan scored Simmons,
and a fielder’s choice by Brennan Morgan scored Bruce.
2-1, the Owls added a run in the top of the fifth inning as
Funkhouser walked Cornell Nixon to start the inning. Nixon
advanced to second on a ground out, advanced to third on a wild
pitch and scored on a throwing error by Gibson.
Louisville cut the margin in half in the seventh inning when
Solak doubled to right-center and scored from second on a RBI
single to center by Alex Chittenden.
Cardinals then finally broke through in the eighth inning with
the game-tying and game-winning runs.
reliever Kyle McGrath (2-1) picked up the win for Louisville
with a strikeout and a hit in one inning, with Funkhouser going
seven innings with three hits, three runs (two earned), seven
strikeouts and five walks. Burdi threw one inning, allowing one
hit and striking out two.
Kennesaw State’s James Connell (7-4) took the loss despite
pitching only two-thirds of an inning. He gave up one hit, two
runs (both earned) with a walk and a strikeout. KSU starter
Jordan Hillyer tossed 4.2 innings, giving up one run on five
hits with two strikeouts and four walks.
was the star at the plate, going 3 for 5 with two doubles,
including the game-winning hit. Kay was 3 for 4, and Gibson was
2 for 4.
Owls’ Max Pentecost, the No. 13 overall player taken in Thursday
night’s first round of the Major League Draft, went 0 for 3 with
a walk and a strikeout.
Louisville could clinch its third trip to the College World
Series Saturday night (first pitch 7 p.m., ESPNU), but McDonnell
said eliminating Kennesaw State won't be easy.
expect them to come out and compete,” McDonnell said. “We have a
lot of respect for these guys.”
Kennesaw’s Nixon didn't lack for confidence.
don't lose twice,” Nixon said. “We will be back ready to play
tomorrow, best believe that.”