AUSTIN, Texas — Big first and second innings, combined with a shutout performance from starter Ty Madden, were just what the Texas baseball team needed, as the Longhorns earned their third straight victory Friday night, defeating BYU, 11-1, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
"Well, you look at game one and it's a 1-1 game late and we have to hit a single that scored two runs," Texas head coach David Pierce said as he assessed his team's performance over the last three contests. "Yesterday we played a different type of game because that's what the game kind of called for. [UT was] down early and I didn't want guys going to the plate panicking and we used the short game much more so than normal. I much prefer seeing our guys do what they did tonight. They faced a very good left-hander tonight."
After losing the first three games of the season, the Longhorns evened their season record at 3-3, while BYU fell to 2-5.
Texas got to work quickly in front of a largely pro-Longhorn crowd of 1,504, putting three runs on the board in the first inning. Center fielder Mike Antico, who came up clutch in the first two games of the series, led off with a base hit, and shortstop Trey Faltine singled one batter later. A double steal put the runners on second and third as Zach Zubia stepped to the plate. On the third pitch of the at-bat, the first baseman lofted a line drive to center field. BYU center fielder Mitch McIntyre wasted too much time getting to the ball, as his futile attempt to dive headfirst for the out allowed the ball to bounce over his outstretched glove and roll to the fence. As the base runners raced across the plate with fans on their feet, Zubia charged home just as the ball reached the shortstop. The relay to the plate was off target, giving Zubia a rare inside-the-park home run, putting the Horns up, 3-0.
"Once the ball made the middle guys run for it, I was like, 'He's either going to score, get thrown out by 10 feet or fall flat on his face,'" Pierce said with a laugh.
"We can all go to our grave knowing that Zach Zubia can score on an inside-the-park. It was worth watching no matter what."
After Madden fired his second three-up, three-down inning in the second frame, Texas again connected at the plate. A double by left fielder Eric Kennedy double led things off, and gave way to an RBI double by third baseman Cam Williams that took a high hop over the left field wall later on in the inning, scoring both Kennedy and second baseman Murphy Stehly to give Texas a 5-0 advantage. After Zubia reached first on a walk, designated hitter Ivan Melendez pulled a 1-0 pitch to left field, driving in both Williams and Faltine, who had walked with two outs.
That commanding 7-0 lead was more than enough to solidify the win, though Pierce's squad kept its foot on the pedal, with Madden (1-1) tossing a no-hitter through six innings. His day would finish much better than it had one week ago when he took the loss in the season opener against No. 7 Mississippi State. The righty fanned 11 batters and allowed only a single hit and one walk through seven innings of work in his second start of the season.
"I'd say obviously, stat-wise, yes," Madden said when asked if this performance topped all the others during his Longhorn career. "I guess we can say so. [Against] Boise State last year my command was little tighter and against Arkansas my slider command was a little tighter, but overall in this outing everything came together and I didn't have to veer from my original gameplan."
That single hit was a major topic of discussion as Madden spoke to the press postgame, as a sharp ground ball off the bat of McIntyre got past Williams, ending the pitcher's flawless performance. But Madden was not at all frustrated with his teammate, even noting how it was Williams who saved the no-hitter after BYU second baseman Andrew Pintar led off the game with a rocket of ground ball to third.
"It's baseball," Madden said. "Cam was upset. I was like, 'Dude, you put your chest on a ball in the first inning, first at-bat of the game. If you don't do that, I'm not even in that situation,' so I wouldn't be where I am without him. He puts it on the line for us every week at third base."
Jared Southard kept the one-hitter going in the eighth, and Coy Cobb did his job in the ninth, the only blemishes coming on a leadoff double by Pintar, who scored the Cougars' only run of the game on a Cobb wild pitch with two outs.
As the pitching staff excelled on a cloudy evening, the team's offensive counterparts continued to add to Texas' lead. BYU reliever Cooper McKeehan issued three consecutive walks to begin the sixth, and Williams managed to make contact with the bases loaded, giving Antico just enough time to score from third. With two outs in the same inning, Melendez demonstrated his ability to hit to the opposite field, as Faltine and Douglas Hodo III came across the plate to put Texas up, 10-0. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Hodo the following inning scored second baseman Dylan Campbell from third for UT's 11th run of the ballgame.
The final game in the four-game series will be at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon as the Horns will host BYU in a game that will be carried on Longhorn Network. Tristan Stevens is tabbed to start tomorrow's game for Texas.