Funkhouser humming again, good start for UofL in NCAA regional

Kyle Funkhouser could have gone extra innings if necessary. But Coach Dan McDonnell knowing he may be able to use him again in a couple of days.

Funkhouser under total control, thank you, in the first game of the Louisville NCAA Regional, getting his team off to a good start. The 6-foot-3 senior allowing only four hits over eight innings in a 6-1 win for the University of Louisville over Western Michigan.

Corey Ray with three stolen bases, raising his total to 42.
Corey Ray with three stolen bases, raising his total to 42.

A game witnessed by 4,770 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

The MLB scouts, preparing for another draft in less than a week, taking note of Funkhouser’s resurgence after a shaky start this season. The likelihood of getting picked again in the first round for two consecutive years improving greatly.

Funkhouser improving his record to 9-3 this season, 35-12 all-time over four seasons at UofL. May be rounding into top form at just the right time. Maybe, just, maybe, nothing is ever certain in baseball.

Corey Ray, another big time prospect, having a nice night as well, going three-for-four with three singles while batting in a run. He stole second base all three times, raising his stolen base total to 42, best in the nation.

See Corey Ray steal:

Funkhouser back at top of rotation as NCAA baseball begins

No one felt more empathy for University of Louisville pitchers Brendan McKay and Drew Harrington during their struggles in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament than one of their own.

Kyle Funkhouser has been there more than a couple of times this season, unable to get a ball over the plate, unable to get anyone out, watching baseballs sail out of the park on him.

Takes time to recover, to regain confidence, get back on the mound, knowing the game is in your hands, the outcome resting on your shoulders. The former All-American was moved from starting on Fridays to Sundays after giving up eight runs in four innings to Florida State in April.

Continue reading “Funkhouser back at top of rotation as NCAA baseball begins”

Funkhouser back on top on Senior Day for Louisville baseball

A challenging season for Kyle Funkhouser who chose to play his senior year with the University of Louisville baseball team after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.

The low point came during a 16-8 loss to Florida State in early April. Funkhouser gave up eight runs in two innings, including a grand slam home run in that game. It was his second loss in three games, things were looking grim.

The UofL righthander may have been having second thoughts about turning down a million-dollar-plus signing bonus.  He had returned to UofL this season remembering some rough spots at the end of last season, knowing he needed to improve, wanting to get better.

Danny Rosenbaum with two hits on Senior Day.
Danny Rosenbaum with two hits on Senior Day.

Coach Dan McDonnell recognized what Funkhouser was going through, relieving some of the pressure on him by switching him from first to third in the starting pitcher rotation. Since then, Funkhouser has won four straight games to raise his won-lost record to 7-3 for the season.

Funkhouser was at his best Sunday on Senior Day, leaving the mound to the sounds of a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,341. Funkhouser was in total command, striking out eight batters allowing a good North Carolina State team only two hits in a 6-1 win for Louisville.

The win was the 33rd for Funkhouser in four seasons, making him the all-time winningest pitcher in Louisville baseball history. He also leads in strikeouts with a total of 359 of them.

Two other seniors coming through, including first baseman Danny Rosenbaum who was 2-for-4 at the plate and reliever Anthony Kidston, who struck out two batters in the ninth inning.

The game gave Louisville a clean sweep of the three-game series against the college baseball’s 10th-ranked team.

And Funkhouser is far from done.

Jim Patterson for drama, Slugger Field for relaxing

Baseball is a slow sport, always has been, with long, drawn out games.

The baseball park is a good place to relax without an interest in the outcome of the game. Like going to a Louisville Bats game, I couldn’t care less about who wins or loses at Slugger Field. Those games are simply an escape from the frantic pace of life. Great food, good people watching. The outcome of the game usually meaningless.

It’s a totally different atmosphere at Jim Patterson Field, however. The home team is wearing University of Louisville uniforms, adding a sense of urgency at every game. We identify closely with the players and the familiar faces in the crowd.  Almost every game is at least three hours long, others much longer.

The slow pace of the games only adds to the tension, with lots of drama seemingly hanging on so many Louisville at-bats and opposing hitters. If UofL wins, every minute was worth it. Lose and it’s a downer, wasted investment in effort, emotion and drama.

*    *    *

Kyle Funkhouser
Kyle Funkhouser

A month ago Kyle Funkhouser was cruising along with a 6-2 won-lost record. He has won only one game in May, however, and now stands at 7-5. The 6-foot-3 junior, eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in three weeks, has seen his earned run average almost double from 1.94 last season to 3.29 through his last game. He has a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts vs. ACC teams, three of which were UofL losses.

It has become painful, irritating and frustrating to witness the rapid decline in effectiveness, with Funkhouser struggling to find the strike zone in the early innings, giving up too many runs against good teams. He gets better as the game goes on, but by then it is too late for UofL to recover.

Despite Funkhouser’s problems, Coach Dan McDonnell has shown no inclination toward changing his starting pitcher rotation. Difficult situation for the coach with a player who had won 18 games against four losses coming into the season. The best outcome would be to see McDonnell rewarded for his loyalty. The other outcome not so pleasant.

*    *    *

Sebastian Stiefelmeyer
Sebastian Stiefelmeyer

Sebastian Stiefelmeyer’s bid to become the top male tennis player came to an end Friday when he lost to Columbia University’s Winston Lin, 7-5 and 6-4 in the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in Waco, Texas.

Stiefelmeyer was 43-7 in singles competition overall and 10-2 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.

UofL’s Kyle Funkhouser pre-season baseball All-American

Screenshot 2014-12-19 23.05.49Louisville junior righthanded pitcher Kyle Funkhouser was named  a preseason First Team Louisville Slugger All-American on Friday by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

Funkhouser earned second team honors last season finishing 13-3 overall with a 1.94 earned run average and 122 strikeouts  in 120 innings.

For his collegiate career, Funkhouser is 18-4 with a 2.01 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 175 innings and 24 total starts over two seasons.

First home game is February 18th against Eastern Kentucky University.