Jim Patterson Stadium celebrates the 2016 senior class . Photo by Jason Wyrick.
Cards Sweep Pivotal Series Against #12 NC State
This weekend, the Cardinals baseball team hosted North Carolina State for the final regular season ACC series at Jim Patterson Stadium. Ranked No. 12 in the country, the Wolfpack were a formidable opponent to the No. 5 ranked Cardinals, and a terrific measuring stick for the Cards’ potential postseason run, one that this series showed could very well end with some hardware in Omaha.
Sophomore Brendan McKay was given the nod to open this pivotal series. Behind his defense, he got off to a fast start on the mound and didn't look back. Second baseman Nick Solak continued to storm back to form following his hand injury, belting a solo home run over the left field fence to put the Cards on the board in the opening frame. Danny Rosenbaum also flashed his defensive prowess with a pair of top play candidates at first base, preserving the slim Louisville lead.
In the 8th, Blake Tiberi scored on an RBI single by Logan Taylor to double the lead, and with the zero still intact in the NC State runs column, Brendan’s masterful performance on the bump ended with two outs in the 8th. Closer Zack Burdi was summoned from the bullpen to record the final four outs, which he accomplished with three strikeouts. The Cards improved to 40-10 and 17-8 in ACC action.
Junior Drew Harrington started game two for the Cards. He worked the majority of his day without a lead, but he didn’t miss a beat. Louisville struck first in the bottom of the 5th when Blake Tiberi came across to score on Drew Ellis’ RBI single. Three more runs were pushed across in the inning when Will Smith, Nick Solak and Brendan McKay connected for RBI singles of their own.
NC State got onto the board for the first time in the series in the top of the 7th. With two RBIs off of a single and a fielder’s choice, the Wolfpack cut the four run deficit in half. To begin the 8th, Lincoln Henzman was brought in from the pen to hold the lead as is, and with a scoreless half inning on two hits, he handed over the ball and a two run lead to Zack Burdi in the 9th. Burdi recorded his ninth save of the season by striking out the side. With the win, Louisville improved to 41-10 (18-8 ACC).
It was Senior Day at Jim Patterson Stadium, and senior Kyle Funkhouser, the career leader in most pitching categories and the highest draft pick in the history of the program, took the mound and had his best outing of the 2016 campaign.
The Cards offense awoke early and put two on the board in the first. Brendan McKay grounded out and Devin Hairston doubled, both for an RBI. In the second, the lead tripled to 6-0. Drew Ellis continued his week of dominance at the plate, belting a two run blast, his third in the past five games. Logan Taylor scored on a wild pitch and Brendan McKay brought in Will Smith with a sacrifice fly to wrap up the scoring.
Funk walked the leadoff batter in the 8th before Coach McDonnell turned to Sam Bordner, who allowed the runner to score on a base hit. Adam Wolf was called upon and he recorded the final two outs, escaping a bases loaded jam and preserving the five run lead.
Seniors Kyle Funkhouser and Danny Rosenbaum had games to remember, Funk pitching seven strong innings and Danny going 2-4 at the plate while also making a few strong plays on defense, and it was only fitting that the third senior in this year’s class also had a game not soon forgotten. Pitcher Anthony Kidston, the former freshman All-American and rotation starter got the call to close the game out. Striking out two in the process, Kidston closed out a tumultuous career on a high note, and the Cards improved to 42-10 (19-8 ACC).