Cards squeeze one out against the Owls

Kyle Gibson

The University of Louisville moved to within one game of making a return trip to the College World Series on Friday night. The Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to grab a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State in the opener of a best-of-three series before a record crowd of 5,351 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

The University of Louisville baseball team squeezed one out on Friday night.

No, they literally the Cardinals squeezed out a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State.

Struggling with runners in scoring position, Kyle Gibson squeezed home Grant Kay to tie the score in the bottom of the eighth and then freshman Nick Solak delivered a two-run double for the victory before a record crowd 5,351 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

"That was a fun game to be a part of," U of L coach Dan McDonnell said. "And that's kind of what we expected."

Kyle Funkhouser went seven innings and allowed only three hits but walked five and gave up three runs for a 3-1 deficit. U of L left eight on base through seven innings.

But the Cardinals scratched across a run in the seventh and then Kyle McGrath got a double play to end the top of the eighth.

And then the Cardinals got going at the plate, with Grant Kay starting the inning with a single. He stole second before Sutton Whiting struck out and then went to third on a wild pitch.

Zach Lucas walked and then Dan McDonnell called the squeeze bunt and Kyle Gibson executed a perfect squeeze.

McDonnell called it "an easy call with Gibby (at the plate). You want to put your good bunters to be in that situation."

"We practice that every day," Gibson said. "I was ready for it. (The pitch) was up and in but it wasn't too bad."

Kay scored easily on the play and Gibson beat the throw to first. Solak then doubled to right-center, scoring Lucas and Gibson.

Solak, a freshman from Chicago, went 3-for-4 in the game and had three RBIs. Kay also went 3-for-4 on the night with U of L getting 11 total hits in the game.

Reliever Nick Burdi then came in and picked up his 17th save of the season, tying Neil Holland's single-season mark set in 2010.

"I loved it," McDonnell said of the atmosphere. "That was fun. I told our kids even if we didn't come out on top, enjoy this. But that was a lot of fun."

The Cardinals (49-15) will try to clinch a third trip to the World Series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. in game two of the series.

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