Funkhouser tosses a gem in season-opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. - University of Louisville junior pitcher Kyle Funkhouser started the season with a dominant performance on Friday afternoon at Bright House Field as the Cardinals downed Alabama State 5-1. Funkhouser (1-0) pitched seven innings of one-hit ball with 12 strikeouts.

With just over an hour left until first pitch of the season opener, a horde of professional baseball scouts and upper management folks scurried towards the University of Louisville bullpen at Bright House Field.

In all more than 50 scouts lined the fences above the bullpen watching U of L junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser.

And he certainly didn't disappoint.

Funkhouser, a first-team preseason All-American by four news outlets, pitched seven innings and allowed just one hit and walked just one batter in a 5-1 win over Alabama State in the USF Opening Weekend Challenge.

The native of Oak Forest, Ill., gave up a single and a hit in a 22-pitch first inning and then retired 20 consecutive batters to end his outing. He finished with 96 pitches.

"I was a little too excited the first inning," Funkhouser said. "But after the first inning coach (Roger) Williams told me to settle down and do what I do best.

"A lot of preparation this summer and then again this spring had me itching. It was nice to not finally pitch against someone on your own team."

Funkhouser - like all the Louisville starting pitchers early in the season - was on a strict pitch count by pitching coach Roger Williams.

But head coach Dan McDonnell was certainly pleased.

"Our big challenge for Funk was to just set the tone for the weekend," McDonnell said. "Obviously, all the expectations going in. We just wanted him to set the tone, be the cowbell for the rest of the staff. He did great.

"It was clean and consistent. It just seemed like a stress free outing."

Funkhouser led the country in wins last season, going 13-3 with a 1.94 ERA for the Cardinals. He's projected as a top first-round draft pick for the June Amateur Draft.

While all of the scouts that started the day around the bullpen later filled up an entire section behind home plate, Funkhouser said he doesn't fret the future.

"There was quite a few guys up there," he said. "It's just one of those things you can't worry about too much. They are going to be here if you pitch bad or if you pitch good, so you just have to go out there and pitch.

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