While it has struggled more often than not this season, on Tuesday night the Texas bullpen was lights out. Building off of a strong start from freshman Ty Madden, the Texas pitching staff controlled the narrative en route to a 3-1 victory over the Rice Owls in Austin.
Madden has struggled with a shoulder injury all year but looked comfortable throughout his 3.1 innings. He allowed only one run on four hits and struck out three. In the fourth inning, Madden allowed Owls to get to second and third with one out. Shortly after, head coach David Pierce made the call to bring in sophomore Tristan Stevens.
At that point, Texas was up 2-1 over Rice and the runners on-base would determine whether or not Texas would lose its lead. But Stevens matched the situation with one of the best performances of his season. He faced only two batters but struck both out to hold onto the lead.
“Tristan Stevens was really the pitcher of the night,” Pierce said. “(Men on) second and third. One out. And two big strikeouts to end the inning.”
Senior Matteo Bocchi picked up where Stevens left off and went for three complete innings and allowed no runs on no hits. Bocchi enjoyed his best performance of the season and showcased his new arm slot to the Rice Owls.
Usually an over-the-top pitcher, Bocchi has more of a side-armed delivery currently. The coaching staff approached Bocchi about the idea of dropping his arm slot two days before the first game of the season.
“The coaches approached me and they said they think my stuff and where I used to be, it wasn’t as good as they were expecting,” Matteo Bocchi said. “So we decided to drop and everything got so much better. Just movement and everything. So we stuck with that.”
Sophomore Brandon Ivey and senior Donny Diaz combined for the final two innings of the ballgame and allowed just one hit between the two of them.
Offensively, Texas found itself in a groove as well. One and two-hole batters junior Duke Ellis and freshman Lance Ford led the way for Texas and combined for half of the team’s eight hits.
A 3-1 game isn’t always the most exciting put Pierce noted his team’s effectiveness.
“It was kind of a soft side of our offense,” Pierce said. “But if you can pitch and play defense, you have a shot. And that’s what we did tonight.”
Texas will play again on Friday as the Kansas State Wildcats travel to Austin to face Texas in a three-game series. First pitch at Disch-Falk Field on Friday night is set for 6:30 P.M.
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