LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville freshman Nick Solak hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning, helping the Cardinals rally to a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State on Friday in an NCAA super regional.
The Cardinals (49-15) scored three runs in the eighth to come from behind and move within a victory of their second straight College World Series berth and third since Dan McDonnell was hired as coach in 2007.
"I told the kids if we don't get the rally and fall up short, so be it," McDonnell said. "We turn the page and come back tomorrow. Fortunately, we got the rally late, got the fans excited, and it worked our way. This is baseball. There's lots of parity, and anything can happen."
Kyle Funkhouser allowed three runs — two earned — and three hits in seven innings for the Cardinals. He struck out seven and walked five. Kyle McGrath (2-1) got the win in relief.
The Owls (40-23), who have won 26 of their last 29 games, are one game from elimination in their first NCAA tournament appearance since transitioning from Division II in 2007. The teams play again Saturday. Reliever James Connell (7-4) took the loss.
Louisville took a 1-0 lead in the third after Kyle Gibson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Solak's single.
Kennesaw State scored two runs in the fourth after Funkhouser issued back-to-back walks to begin the inning. The Owls took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Cornell Nixon scored from second on a wild pitch and a throwing error by Gibson.
"I just thought we were very patient during those innings," Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. "I thought our guys were laying off some close pitches, it looked like to me, and had a good approach going up there.
"We were getting something out of it. We weren't hitting him, but we at least got something out of it."
Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, who was the No. 11 overall pick by Toronto in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday, was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Nick Burdi, Louisville's closer who was drafted in the second round by Minnesota, earned his 17th save. With the tying run at the plate, pinch-hitter Chris Erwin popped out to third to end the game.
Solak, the designated hitter, finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.
"It's what you lay in bed dreaming about," he said of his go-ahead double. "It's cool to get that opportunity for the team."