Behind a typical pitching performance from Ty Madden and late game heroics from Eric Kennedy, Texas took a 1-0 series lead with a 4-3 win vs South Florida in Game 1 of the super regionals Saturday. The Longhorn also did it behind a rumpus house of over 7,000 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Madden, who came into Saturday second in conference play with 110 strikeouts on the season, finished with nine more against the Bulls while pitching a shutout through 7 IP's. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year gave Texas fans a performance they have become accustomed to.
In return, the crowd gave him a standing ovation as his night on the mound was likely the last for Madden in front of a crowd in Austin. The sophomore right-hander is expected to declare for the MLB Draft come July.
The Longhorns struggled to build a lead as South Florida remained competitive despite being shutout through eight innings. Redshirt freshman pitcher Jack Jasiak awkwardly slipped on the mound in the 1st inning behind a loud Texas crowd, but quickly responded to retire the sides despite two runners ISP.
With the ringing "Zuuuuu" chants, first baseman Zach Zubia got the scoring started. At the bottom of the first inning, he rolled an RBI towards third to send Mike Antico home. Antico followed this up with an RBI double in the second to give the Horns an early 2-0 lead.
Texas wouldn't score until the bottom of the seventh as shortstop Trey Faltine ignited a much needed spark for the Horns' batting order with a lead-off double. A SAC fly later in the inning sent Faltine home and gave Texas a 3-0 lead.
South Florida stayed composed despite the early nerves and mistakes. A Bulls team that was predicted to finish last in the American Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll proved why they were AAC champions.
As for proving they could hang with the No. 2 Longhorns? Questioned answered in the ninth.
USF seemed all but ready to go down 0-1 at their first super regional in program history, until a solo shot from outfielder Daniel Cantu gave the Bulls' momentum.
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Witt, who had thrown four strikeouts since taking over in relief for Madden, then gave up a two-out double in the ninth to Jacob Eaton. Pinch hitter Drew Brutcher stepped up to the plate with two outs staring him in the face.
Brutcher, who has been battling a hand injury, stayed collected and sent a monster two-shot homer down right field to tie the game and silence the jammed-packed Disch.
But Texas wasn't going to let that slide.
In the bottom of the ninth with a runner on, Kennedy stepped up to the plate. The sophomore drilled a deep double to center field that hit the back wall, sealing victory for the home crowd and a happy drive home.
Game 2 will take place tomorrow, June 13 at Disch-Falk Field once again. The first pitch will be at 8 p.m. Texas is now one win away from advancing to Omaha, Neb. for the first time since 2018.
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