A couple of University of Louisville players who have had more their share of challenges lately broke through in the second game Friday in the NCAA Regional, leading UofL to a 7-2 win over Morehead State. A perfect night for baseball, with temperatures in the mid-seventies and 5,143 in attendance.
Good omens for what Coach Dan McDonnell calls the beginning of a new season, providing a boost of optimism following a disappointing finish in the ACC tournament. A very encouraging night for shortstop Devin Hairston and pitcher Kyle Funkhouser.
McDonnell had moved Hairston up from ninth to eighth in the batting lineup, and Hairston would respond early and often. Entering the game with a batting average of 180, he would go four-for-four, with two doubles and singles, driving in one run while scoring two others.
His first hit, the one that had UofL fans happily shaking their heads, was a double finding a hole between left and center fields, scoring Zach Lucas all the way from first base. He would score on a single to center by Logan Taylor. Hairston would deliver another double in the sixth inning, bouncing it off the left field wall.
When it was all over, he had improved his batting average from 180 to over 200. Finding his batting eye again at just the right time.
Funkhouser looked like the Funkhouser of old, sailing through the first six innings against a team with the highest batting average in NCAA baseball, allowing only three singles, giving up only one walk. A little shaky in the seventh, however, giving up three straight base hits, loading the bases with no one out. He wouldn’t allow any balls out of the infield, forcing two runners out at home plate.
The Eagles entered the game hitting .335 and averaging 8.6 runs per game. Kane Sweeney had a solo home run in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth.They would manage only six hits for the game.
Louisville will meet Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday, with Morehead and Bradley meeting at noon in a knockout game.