Hairston, Funkhouser find stuff, Louisville baseball advances

VsMoreheadNCAA

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.

Shake It Off, Louisville 74, Morehead 54

No mas, por favor!

Cast the nightmare spell, the disaster scenario on another top seed another year, the nightmare with the 64th seed toppling the No. 1 seed. Visions of the ice gathering, the ship sinking, bubbling, never to resurface.

Those big second halves aren’t automatic and the supply could be limited.

Andre McGee making the most of every second.
Andre McGee making the most of every second.

Come out pumped, ready to play, the first 20 minutes. Louisville was, but the adrenaline was pumping overtime for Morehead, providing ample evidence:

Every opponent will be super charged, over motivated, driven and desperate to take you down.

Not necessary, not appropriate, this stuff reported by CBS Sports:

Terrence Williams had extended his long, tattoo-covered arms and boogied at midcourt when the Morehead State pep band played “We Got The Funk” during pregame warmups, an indication that the tournament’s top team — one with two titles already on its resume — was in the mood for some celebrating.

There’s loose and there’s being silly.

The No. 1 ranking, the No. 1 seed. Forget ’em. Bathed in the accolades for four days, almost four days too many. More of a detriment than a weapon in the NCAA Tournament.

  • Andre McGee all over the court, here, there, back, forth, in, out, relentless on defense, setting the example, defining leadership. No time for laurels, got to bust one’s butt, or get out of the way.
  • Samardo Samuels never celebrates, no joking around with him. The closest he comes to smiling is a rim-rattling dunk, his body language all business, with his nine points largely responsible for Louisville’s two-point lead at the half. Some day going to be great one because he is so focused.
  • Terrence Williams due to come out of his shooting slump, adjust to whatever the opposition is throwing at him these days. A Louisville win without a T-Will dunk or two or three leaves fans with a half-full sensation, just not quite as satisfying. Get serious, T-Will, this is serious stuff. Show time comes later. We appreciate the nine rebounds, the 13 points, but there is more in the tank.
  • Earl Clark apparently saving his best for Sunday. The five assists would have been impressive without the five turnovers. The one steal was impressive but what followed the next few seconds wasn’t.
  • Edgar Sosa not letting Clark out do him with an equal number of turnovers. Can’t afford them.
  • Jared Swopshire finally hitting a three-point shot. Progress but still timid. Invest some energy into all that playing time.

Typical of many Louisville performances this season, the good, the bad and the ugly. Wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun if the Cards made it look too easy.  Bring it, Sunday.

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