Cards end NC State's winning streak

The third-ranked Cardinals take the series opener against NC State.

Third-ranked Louisville ended NC State’s nine-game winning streak on Thursday, as the Cardinals held off the Wolfpack, 4-3, at Doak Field on Thursday in the series opener between the two schools.

The Wolfpack dropped to 30-19 overall and 14-13 in the ACC with the loss. Louisville improved to 41-13, 24-4 with the win.

Kyle Funkhouser went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking four to improved to 7-4 on the season. Right-handed stopper Zack Burdi pitched two innings of relief, fanning three, for his eighth save of the season.

Ryan Williamson (3-3) was saddled with the loss after entering the game in relief in the second inning. The left-hander allowed one run on two hits but walked four in two and two-thirds innings of work.

On the evening, NC State walked eight Louisville batters and hit four more. The Cardinals finished with only six hits and also committed three errors.

“We actually played extremely well some of the things we did,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “You are going to have 10 strikeouts. [Funkhouser] has got a chance to be a top-10 pick and Burdi is like the Kimbrel for [them].”

NC State trailed, 2-0, in the bottom of the fourth when Chance Shepard blasted a game-tying homer over the rightfield wall. It was Shepard’s fifth home run of the season.

“He had been throwing a lot of fastballs,” Shepard said of Funkhouser. “I was looking for one and I was in an advantage count at 3-1. He threw me a fastball I could handle and I got the barrel to it.”

Louisville responded in its half of the fifth. The Cardinals retook the lead without the benefit of a base hit as NC State walked two, hit a batter and then a sacrifice fly from Logan Taylor drove in the winning run.

In the top of the sixth, Corey Ray advanced from second to third on a wild pitch. As third baseman Joe Dunand applied the tag, it appeared that Ray came off the bag. Elliott Avent came out of the dugout to argue the call and, after Louisville half of the inning ended, home plate Olindo Mattia ejected the NC State head coach.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing,” Avent said when asked what he did to get sent to the showers early. “I turned my back and walked back to the dugout. [It’s] better question to ask [Mattia].” The teams exchanged runs in the seventh inning. Louisville scored when Logan Taylor smashed a 2-0 pitch to left-centerfield, scoring Zach Lucas. The Pack answered when Bubby Riley--who reached safely on a throwing error--dashed home after Joe Dunand lined a two-out single to right.

The Pack got the tying run to second base in the bottom of the ninth with two outs when Bubby Riley singled and then stole second base. Burdi then struck out Dunand to end the threat and the game.

With seeding for the upcoming ACC Tournament still unclear, NC State will look to rebound in its final two games of the regular season. The Pack and Cardinals return for the second game of the set on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

“It is big,” Avent said of the final two games. “You saw what happened to us last year. Playing in the play-in game, you get penalized by the selection committee. You don’t want to be in that situation again.”

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