Louisville closer Zack Burdi hit Timmy Richards with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the 10th inning to lift Cal State Fullerton to a 3-2 win Saturday over the host Cardinals in the first game of the Louisville regional.
The hard-throwing sophomore's first pitch registered 100 mph, but it clipped Richards to push in the winning run.
“We got a little lucky,” said Titans coach Rick Vanderhook. “I said it yesterday, you've got to have a little luck. We got lucky, and I'll take all the luck we can get.”
The Titans (38-22) took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series against the Cardinals (46-17), the No. 3 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Game 2 on Sunday will feature freshman left-handers — Fullerton's John Gavin (7-2, 3.55 ERA) and McKay (8-3, 1.71 ERA), who played first base for the Cardinals on Saturday.
The fourth meeting between the two teams was a pitcher's duel most of the way.
Titans starter Thomas Eshelman and Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser, both expected to early selections in the next week's major league draft, matched each other nearly pitch for pitch. Eshelman, a junior right-hander, allowed one earned run and eight hits. He walked one — just his seventh walk all season — and struck out five in seven innings.
Fullerton's Tyler Peitzmeier (4-3) picked up the win in relief of Eshelman.
Funkhouser, also a junior, gave up two earned runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Funkhouser allowed only two hits through the first five innings before giving up three singles in the sixth. The last of those was a two-out, RBI-single by Dalton Blaser.
“Funkhouser was just peppering that outside half, and it was 92, 94, and that's a hard pitch to hit at the bottom down there,” Vanderhook said. “I think we wore him out a little bit.”
Eshelman, who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the second, made his only mistake in the bottom of the sixth. That's when Louisville freshman Brendan McKay led off with a home run to right field.
The Titans retook the lead in the eighth with another two-out, RBI single by Blaser.
“We hit balls where they weren't,” Vanderhook said. “Blase's ball up the middle wasn't a missile, but it looks like it to him. I don't care if it bounced 50 times, it got through the middle of the field.”
The Cardinals forced extra innings after a one-out, solo home run by Mike White in the bottom of the ninth.
In the 10th, Louisville freshman right-hander Lincoln Henzman (5-2) walked Jerrod Bravo with one out, then gave up back-to-back singles to Tanner Pinkston and Hunter Cullen before giving way to Burdi.