There were hints of the magic that produced a nine-game winning streak for N.C. State in play on Friday night against No. 3 Louisville.
There was an early home run from Chance Shepard and late scrapple run from Bubby Riley, the firestarter himself.
But in the end, the powerful Cardinals wouldn’t let the Wolfpack’s winning streak hit double digits. Kyle Funkhouser, one of the top prospects for next month’s major-league draft, worked six innings in a 4-3 Louisville win.
It was Funkhouser’s first ACC win in almost four weeks. The Cards (41-13) have been dominant in their first year in the ACC but oddly, their best pitcher was responsible for half of their league losses.
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Centerfielder Logan Taylor drove in a pair of runs for Louisville, who improved to an unthinkable 24-4 in ACC play.
N.C. State (30-19, 14-13 ACC) lost for the first time in May. The Wolfpack erased a 2-0 deficit on Shepard’s two-run home run in the fourth inning but never could take the lead against Funkhouser.
Taylor’s sacrifice fly, after Louisville loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch, gave the Cards a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.
After a scoreless, yet eventful sixth, Taylor struck again in the seventh with an RBI single to push Louisville’s advantage to 4-2.
N.C. State coach Elliott Avent was ejected in the middle of the sixth inning by home plate umpire Olindo Mattia.
Avent had argued with third base umpire Fred Cannon in the top of the sixth after a close play at third. Louisville’s Corey Ray advanced to third on a wild pitch. N.C. State catcher Andrew Knizner fired a hard throw to third but Ray beat the tag of third baseman Joe Dunand.
Then it appeared that Ray stepped off the bag and Dunand tagged him but he was ruled safe. Avent came out to argue but seemingly the issue was over after Brendan McKay grounded out to second to end the inning.
But as the Wolfpack fielders were running into the dugout, Mattia motioned to Avent and the Wolfpack coach was gone.
N.C. State scratched a run back in the seventh, off reliever Lincoln Henzman, when Riley reached on an error and then scored on a Dunand single.
It was Riley’s walk-off home run against Virginia on April 26 that started the winning streak.
Riley came up with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth and singled up the middle. But then Dunand struck out to end the game and the streak.