Through four innings, Sam Houston State starter Seth Ballew faced the minimum. Texas sophomore Zach Zubia was the Longhorns’ only baserunner after he reached on a single, but he was quickly erased in a double play from the next hitter.
Fortunes quickly turned for Texas in the fifth. Thanks to four straight doubles off Ballew to start the inning, Texas made up a three-run deficit, took a three-run lead, and extended it to seven in a 10-3 win over the Bearkats. Any lead was enough for freshman Ty Madden, who earned his first collegiate victory after a 4.0 inning outing where he allowed one earned run, three hits, walked one, and struck out seven.
Texas’ big offensive inning came after a disappointing start. Senior Matteo Bocchi allowed a string of hits in the SHSU third to allow a 2-0 deficit. After four innings, he was replaced by Madden who gave up a run in his first inning of work in the fifth.
The freshman making his home debut exited the field in the middle of the inning with his team down 3-0. He would return with a 6-3 lead.
“Those long innings (sitting in the dugout) can be brutal, but I ain’t complaining about them,” Madden said.
First, senior DJ Petrinsky doubled to left to start the fifth. Then, Zubia doubled to left-center. Next, junior Ryan Reynolds pulled a breaking pitch down the third base line and took second. Finally, senior Tate Shaw doubled to right-center to cap Texas’ string of two-baggers.
SHSU head coach Matt Deggs had seen enough after those four hitters, and pulled Ballew from the game.
“(Ballew) created some hitting problems, but I thought what was really impressive was for us to be down, they have all the momentum, Ty picks us up on the mound and just really turns the momentum,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “Then, offensively, we kick it in. I can’t recall the last time we had four doubles in a row, and especially rockets.”
Texas added three more to take a 6-3 lead, the last two a result of a single from junior Austin Todd. From there, it was Madden’s show. The freshman allowed two baserunners over his final three innings.
“The thing I loved about him is he had great tempo, he was competing, and he was competing to win,” Pierce said. “That was outstanding.”
Madden came to Texas as one of the more heralded members of the 2018 class. He flirted with signing with the Royals after they picked him in the 34th round of the MLB Draft, but he ultimately chose to play in Austin.
Madden has struck out 11 over 6.2 innings of work this season. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and he has several off-speed pitches available to fool hitters.
“He has stuff,” Pierce said. “That’s the No. 1 key. He’s got great stuff, but he’s really getting better and better at commanding it.”
Madden was one of the names in the competition for the three weekend spots. He didn’t make that three-man group and now he’s doing something many star pitchers out of high school aren’t accustomed to; relieving.
“Coach Pierce has told me to just be flexible,” Madden said. “I’ve had to accept that. It’s something new for me. I’m looking forward to just being able to go out there, wear these colors, and pitch.”
Madden is part of a corps of young pitchers that will be tasked with a lot of innings this season. The ninth inning was worked by freshman Mason Bryant, and Pierce announced after the game freshman Owen Meaney would start Wednesday against UTSA.
All three of those freshman pitchers are going to be a part of this team’s efforts, especially with a tough month of March upcoming.
“I think we’ve all started to I think accept our roles, and for the good of the team, just moving forward,” Madden said. “We know that there’s still a lot to come.”
Texas welcomes UTSA to Disch-Falk Field Wednesday.