Baseball

Skip watching a Ty Madden start, and you might miss out on an elite performance

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HOUSTON — Ty Madden’s starts should be considered must-watch events.

Miss any of the redshirt sophomore’s Friday night outings, and you might miss something special like his complete game shutout of the Houston Cougars. Madden went the distance on Schroeder Park’s turf mound, striking out a career-high 14, walking two, and allowing two hits on 110 pitches during Texas’ 1-0 win.

From the first inning through the ninth, Madden threw fastballs in the mid-to-high 90s wherever catcher Silas Ardoin put his mitt. If Madden needed to utilize his slider, Cougar hitters bit on the pitch time after time. When called upon, his changeup worked as effectively as his other two pitches.

Madden was rated as D1Baseball.com’s No. 3 college prospect entering the 2021 season behind the vicious Vanderbilt duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. His performance against UH, a team picked fourth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, supported his placement among college baseball’s elite arms.

Not interested in watching Madden’s outings? Then the chance to see an efficient performance harkening back to another right-handed pitcher whose last name starts with M-A-D-D might pass by.

But Madden doesn’t get by on pitch placement alone. It’s command, control, and also pure, unadulterated speed that helps the right-hander. He commanded his hard-charging fastball the entire evening, and his excellent performance was Texas’ first complete game shutout since the 2017 season.

From the first inning through the ninth, Madden fired fastballs into the strike zone registering above 96 mph on the stadium radar gun. Cougar hitters swung and missed 25 times on Friday night, accounting for almost one-third of Madden’s strike total.

Madden’s velocity is elite for the college level, and his slider and change-up Friday approached that description as well. His three-pitch mix caught the attention of several notable baseball-related social media accounts including Rob Friedman’s Pitching Ninja.

The best hurlers have their stuff showcased on Friedman’s account. Madden’s batter-baffling effort in his hometown was worthy of a prominent display of his performance.

But it wasn’t just Friedman. Other baseball personas with large followings thought highly of Madden’s outing as well, including Cespedes Family BBQ, who offered every strikeout to his 100,000-plus followers.

It also wasn’t just social media. A strong professional scouting presence was on hand, radar guns in tow, to see Madden bewilder Houston hitters inning after inning after inning. Even Houston head coach Todd Whitting was effusive in his praise following the game, comparing Madden’s night to outings from Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State.

At least one UH hitter struck out in every frame. Two were fanned in the first after a leadoff single and a fielder’s choice. Madden struck out the side in the fifth inning for K’s No. 5, 6, and 7. The sixth inning ended with a strikeout, as did the seventh. And the eighth. And the ninth.

A week after his excellent 11-strikeout start versus BYU, he easily topped it with the best showing of his collegiate career.

Against the Cougars, the Longhorns needed every ounce of effort Madden could provide. Texas plated just one run against Houston starter Robert Gasser, who threw 7.0 innings of quality shutout baseball himself.

Once Gasser left the game, Texas scored its only run via a bases-loaded walk issued to Trey Faltine by Derrick Cherry. Though Texas put the ball in play regularly, it had little to show for it on the scoreboard outside of the single run.

The lack of runs did not disturb Madden. The Longhorn ace said on the postgame radio show he told his teammates he just needed one run. Once he received it in the eighth, he retired six of the final seven batters for his second victory of the year and Texas’ sixth win of the season.

Texas head coach David Pierce calls Madden the “best preparer” he has been around in his 30+ year coaching career. Whether it’s stretching, lifting, yoga, or throwing, Madden stands alone for Pierce among the countless quality pitchers he has experience with.

Madden’s work ethic over the course of the recent calendar year in spite of world events prepared him for the responsibilities of toeing the rubber to begin weekend series.

Tuning in to see him is a smart idea. Let the chance pass by, and you might miss something special.