Garett Wall UofL Baseball SID
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Brendan McKay and Danny Rosenbaum connected for home runs and Kyle Funkhouser won his fifth consecutive start as the No. 4 Louisville baseball team closed the regular season with a 9-3 road victory over Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon at David F. Couch Ballpark.
With their ninth straight triumph and the 16th victory in the last 17 outings, the Cardinals (46-10, 22-8 ACC) equaled the school record for regular season wins matching the 46-win campaigns in 2010 and 2013. Louisville, which clinched its second straight ACC Atlantic Division title on Thursday, will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s ACC Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina.
After facing a three-run deficit in the first inning, Louisville answered by scoring nine straight runs, including three each in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the eighth series sweep of the season. Rosenbaum, a senior from Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, was 2-for-4 with a game-tying two-run home run in the fourth inning, while McKay’s only hit of the day was a three-run homer in the seventh inning to push the Cardinals ahead for good. Junior Will Smith was 3-for-4 with two RBI and scored once, sophomore Blake Tiberi was 2-of-5 with a double and a run scored and junior Corey Ray was 2-for-4 and scored once.
Funkhouser overcame his slow start by striking out 10 and allowing three runs on four hits with just one walk in seven strong innings to win his 34th collegiate game and improve to 8-3 on the season. After surrendering three runs in the opening inning, the Oak Forest, Illinois native gave up just two hits over the final six innings while ringing up at least 10 strikeouts for the third time this season.
The Demon Deacons (32-23, 13-17 ACC) started fast Saturday with those three runs in the first inning on a pair of home runs. Following a one-out walk to Nate Mondou, Stuart Fairchild sent a 2-2 offering off the top of the left field wall and out of the ballpark for his fourth home run of the season. Later in the inning, Gavin Sheets pushed the lead to 3-0 with a solo home run off the right field foul pole.
The Cardinals, who scored each of their first six runs on Saturday with two outs, broke through for their first run of the day in the third inning on a two-out, RBI bunt single by Smith to score Ray. The scoring chance started with an infield single by Ray, who moved to third on a throwing error by pitcher Drew Loepprich on a pickoff attempt.
Louisville evened the score at 3-3 in the fourth inning on a two-run homer off the bat of Rosenbaum. Tiberi connected for a two-out single up the middle before Rosenbaum turned around the first pitch of his at-bat launching a 420-foot shot to left center for his eighth home run of the season and the 13th of his career.
The two-out success for the road club continued in the seventh inning when sophomore Brendan McKay launched a three-run homer with two away to push the Cardinals ahead for good at 6-3. After a single by Smith and a walk to junior Nick Solak, McKay crushed a 2-0 offering from Donnie Sellers powering a 412-foot shot off the light pole in right center for his fourth home run of the season.
The Cardinals ended any hopes of an answer from Wake Forest with three more runs in the eighth inning. Rosenbaum singled and moved to third on a double by junior Colin Lyman before scoring on a throwing error by Mondou at second. Lyman scored the second run of the inning on a wild pitch before Smith drove sophomore Ryan Summers home with a RBI sacrifice fly to right.
Wake Forest plated its final run of the day in the ninth inning on a solo home run by Sheets. Sellers was charged with the loss for the Demon Deacons and dropped to 5-5 on the season after allowing three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of relief.
The complete schedule for next week’s 2016 ACC Championship will be announced Sunday, while action begins Tuesday with a pair of first round games featuring the No. 7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 seeds.