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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kent State baseball team needed its 'A' game to have a shot at upsetting No. 9 Louisville in Friday's NCAA Regional opener, but didn't bring it.
The top-seeded Cardinals (46-15) scored two unearned runs in the first inning, and sophomore ace Kyle Funkhauser did the rest as the fourth-seeded Golden Flashes (36-22) managed just five hits and were blanked 5-0 at Jim Patterson Stadium in a contest that started three and a half hours later then scheduled due to inclement weather.
Kent State will now face No. 2 seed Kentucky (35-24) in an elimination game today at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are expected to start ace A.J. Reed, who was recently named the National Player of the Year after going 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA on the mound while producing 23 homers and 70 RBI at the plate.
Funkhauser (13-2) scattered four of those hits over eight innings, striking out 10.
Kent State junior starter Brian Clark (Stow H.S.) labored early, and received no help from his defense. Clark nearly escaped a first-inning jam, but freshman shortstop Zach Beckner let a two-out flare bounce in front of him and couldn't corral it. The ball skipped past Beckner, allowing two runs to score.
An RBI double by No. 9 hitter Zach Lucas made it 3-0 after the second inning.
Louisville then loaded the bases with nobody out in the third after Clark tried to force a runner at third, but his throw was wide and could not be handled. Corey Ray followed by blooping a fly ball down the left-field line that Kent State senior outfielder Troy Summers could not catch up to, plating two more runs to make it 5-0.
Clark (6-7) lasted five innings, allowing just two earned runs on four hits while striking out five.
Senior outfielder Jon Wilson singled in his first two at-bats for KSU and made it into scoring position, but was stranded in the first and third innings.
Funkhauser then mowed down the Flashes until the eighth, when Wilson lined a shot up the middle with one out and runners on first and second. But Louisville shortstop Sutton Whiting made a diving stop and forced the runner at second for out No. 2, and Summers then struck out to end the inning.
Kent State threatened again in the ninth, putting the first two runners on base, but the next three went down to end the game.