No. 7 Louisville Baseball saw an exploding bat, a 10-strikeout performance and a surprising hit during its first weekend series of the season. The Cardinals won two of three games vs. Western Michigan.
Two beautiful days in Louisville on Friday and Saturday allowed a lively crowd to ignite the Cardinals to get hot in two big wins. Friday showcased a 21-8 win in front of a nicely sized crowd that was able to enjoy the weather and $1 refreshments and hotdogs. Then another great day on Saturday produced an 8-0 win for the Cardinals who looked to be on a roll with the bats.
Friday featured the longest nine-inning game since February of 2012 against Indiana, the game lasted three hours and 49 minutes. Joe Filomeno got the start on the mound but is still struggling to find his groove. Cole Sturgeon rounded up a career high six RBI's and Jim Patterson saw a new stadium record of 22 hits surpassing the old record held from the 2007 Super Regional against Oklahoma State.
"It's great for the team," Sturgeon said. "It gets the momentum going when you're hitting like that and you try to carry that as long as you can. But there's a long way to go and you can't look too far ahead. We have good energy but we have to keep it going."
True freshman Will Smith of Louisville's Kentucky Country Day tallied his first career hit as a Cardinal. He had three in the game.
Saturday was another smooth day for the Cardinals. Kyle Funkhouser started on the mound and struck out a career high 10 Broncos players in seven innings pitched as he continues to improve.
"The plan was to attack with the fastball to get ahead and stay ahead and it seemed to work today," Funkhouser said. "It's much easier to pitch from ahead than it is to pitch from behind."
Jeff Gardner extended his hitting streak to seven games and now has 10 RBIs on the season. Gardner finished with two RBIs on Saturday marking his third game this season with two or more runs driven in. His hit-streak ended Sunday.
Sunday was a bit different for the Cardinals who were looking for a sweep of the Broncos for the weekend. It was a colder day that during the fourth inning saw heavy snow falling onto the field as the Cardinals trailed 4-1. There was even some controversy with a WMU bat exploding during a play. Between a possible illegal bat and WMU's coach taking multiple trips to see the field umpires over some close calls, the game was an interesting affair.
"We had a bad flow to the game in the first three innings and didn't get a quality start on the mound, but we still had chances to win," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "Offensively, we had opportunities but we couldn't get a big hit today. We put runners on base in just about every inning, but you also credit Western Michigan because they made pitches and made plays when they had to. We just weren't able to do enough today."
UofL dropped the game 4-2, but perhaps the bigger shock was All-American RHP Nick Burdi giving up his first hit of the season. The very impressive junior from Illinois has been mowing through batters through Louisville's first four games.
Overall it was a good weekend for the Cards who saw multiple freshmen get playing time and have an impact on the game. These freshmen include Logan Taylor, Colin Lyman, Will Smith, Robert Strader, Mason Richardson, Corey Ray and Nick Solak.
Next up the Cards will play Eastern Illinois on Tuesday, Morehead State on Wednesday, and Toledo on Friday. All games are set to begin at 3:00 p.m. The only explanation for the bizarre weather anyone could think of over the weekend was, "Because Louisville."