Recent improvements for the No. 19 Texas Longhorns continued on Friday against the BYU Cougars with a dominating 11-1 performance at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to cement a third straight win after three straight losses to start the season.
Right-hander Ty Madden was the standout, throwing an absolute game with only a single hit allowed over seven innings and 11 strikeouts, but he received plenty of help from an offense that produced seven hits, 11 walks, and three stolen bases in eight innings, with much of the damage done early.
In the bottom of the first, center fielder Mike Antico singled, as did shortstop Trey Faltine. With two outs, first baseman Zach Zubia came to the plate. Zubia put a good swing on the ball and when the BYU center fielder couldn’t make the play on the sinking liner, it rolled all the way to wall. Antico scored from third, Faltine scored from second, and Zubia rumbled around the bases and reached home without a play at the plate.
It was the first inside-the-park home run for the Longhorns since Zane Gurwitz in 2015 and also capped an impressive first inning against a Cougars pitcher in Cy Nielson who was sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and a complementary slider that struck out third baseman Cam Williams prior to Zubia’s big swing.
Texas kept the pressure on in the bottom of the second when left fielder Eric Kennedy slashed a low pitch into left-center field and hustled all the way to beat a close play at second base. After second baseman Murphy Stehly walked, Antico popped up his bunt attempt to the pitcher, one of the few times between Thursday’s game and the early innings on Friday that the Longhorns weren’t able to execute. Right fielder Douglas Hodo III moved Kennedy to third with a flyout, Stehly advanced, and Faltine did an excellent job of working a full count and laying off a low slider from Nielson.
Williams remained red hot at the plate, smashing a first-pitch fastball into left-field bullpen on a single hop, scoring two runs but costing the Longhorns another by leaving the field of play. In the last four games, the switch hitter has shown big-time power from both sides of the plate, in addition to an obvious confidence and swagger at the plate that seems to bring some juice to his teammates.
After Zubia walked to load the bases again, designated hitter Ivan Melendez lined the second pitch he saw into left field for a two-run single to push the lead to 7-0.
With six hits and five walks against only a single strikeout in the first two innings, the Longhorns hitters were clearly seeing the ball well of Nielson’s hand, showing the right blend of aggressiveness and patience.
Even when Nielson started to settle into more a groove, Texas still had some positive swings and kept the strikeout numbers low while putting up four more runs with three in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Madden looked like an ace, striking out four straight BYU hitters early and retiring the first 10 batters that he faced before hitting a BYU batter in the top of the fourth. After going behind 2-0 on the next batter, Madden got away with a fastball up and over the plate that was hit hard into left field, but close enough to Kennedy to make the catch without much trouble. Madden got out of the inning with a nice pitch in on the hands for a weak groundout to the second baseman.
By the end of the fifth, Madden had already set his career high with eight strikeouts and walked off the mound with a smile on his face after a perfectly placed fastball low and in at 98 mph. He maintained his no hitter into the seventh inning, when the leadoff batter hit an infield single to third, the only hit of the game allowed by Madden, along with one walk.
In the third inning, Madden received some help from his defense as Faltine made a difficult bare-handed play on a high, slow chopper to get the out at first.
Right-hander Jared Southard walked two BYU batters in the eighth, but didn’t give up a hit and escaped his single inning of work unscathed. While fellow right-hander Coy Cobb wasn’t able to say the same after allowing a double and a run, he limited the damage to the single run scored by the Cougars on the day.
With the Longhorns gaining momentum at the plate and on the mound with the stellar performance from Madden and solid three innings of work from the bullpen, Texas is in a good position heading into Saturday’s series finale at 3 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network with a chance to pull out the sweep.