Louisville opened their 2015 campaign in style on Friday night, sending Alabama State to their first defeat of the season in Clearwater, Florida. The Cardinals will no doubt return to Clearwater later in the year for the American Athletic Conference tournament, but the question is…will it be for one of the final starts of junior Kyle Funkhouser’s collegiate career?
The 6-3, 225 pound right-hander is already considered one of the top pitchers available in the 2015 draft, after leading the nation in victories in 2014, and with more performances like the one he produced on Friday, he could be the top pitcher selected from the college ranks. In front of more than 50 scouts, Funkhouser looked nearly un-hittable, mixing his pitches and showing impressive command of all of his offerings. Although, let’s not kid ourselves…his low-to-mid-90s fastball did most of the work.
The final line? Seven-innings, one hit allowed, one walk issued and 12 strikeouts. The latter stat tied a career-high, set against Temple last year, for the right-hander. He retired the final 20 consecutive batters. “A lot of preparation got me ready. I was shut down all fall and Ive been itching to get out here for a while. I got into a good rhythm, felt my timing and the ball was coming out good.” said Funkhouser to Don Miller of College Baseball Central.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Funkhouser’s night was that he managed to rack up that number of strikeouts, despite throwing just 96 pitches, 68% of which went for strikes. The one walk, was issued to the second batter of the game, right after he gave up his only hit of the game. The right-hander was admittedly feeling some nerves. “I was a little too excited the first inning,” Funkhouser told Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority “but after the first inning coach (Roger) Williams told me to settle down and do what I do best.”
Only three times all night was the ball hit out of the infield against Funkhouser, and only one of those resulted in a base hit.
From the second inning on, Funkhouser was perfect, allowing no hits, issuing no walks and striking out nine. Rarely ever did he look challenged. Rarely ever did he look like he didn’t have the hitters exactly where he wanted them.
Can he keep it up?
Funkhouser’s next start should come this upcoming Friday against Milwaukee at the friendlier confines of Louisville’s home stadium, Jim Patterson Stadium.