Washington State sophomore right-hander Grant Taylor picked the perfect time to pitch his best game of the season.
The 6-foot-4, 226-pound pitcher threw a two-hit shutout Thursday, tossing a career-high 133 pitches in a 2-0 win over Arizona State in the opener of a series of three Pac-12 Conference games at Bailey. -Brayton field.
“Grant was outstanding,” Cougars coach Brian Green said. “Grant had three pitches for strikes and was on both sides of home plate. Really proud of him and happy for him. What a response from a very poor performance against the Bruins. I know he was upset, but that’s what you do as a player. You go back to work and you answer. He was a different guy on the mound.
Taylor (4-5) also walked twice and tied his career high with seven strikeouts in a signature performance to cap his season. He induced 15 fly outs, three ground outs and faced two batters over the minimum thanks to his defense by performing a double play.
It was the first full game performance by a Washington State pitcher since Scotty Sunitch did not touch Oregon on April 8, 2018. It was also the first shuout against the Arizona State since a 1-0 win in 10 innings on May 16, 2015.
“I don’t remember anything, I was so passed out there,” said Taylor, who allowed seven hits and eight runs in just 1 inning in Saturday’s 10-1 loss to the No. ‘UCLA. “I just knew going into the fifth or sixth innings that I could possibly do it. I was just minding my pitch count and the competition after that.
Sophomore outfielder Bryce Matthews continued his fine strike lately by going 2 for 4 with a run for the Cougars (25-26, 10-18), who are 16-9 from a 10-game losing streak . Senior outfielder Justin Van De Brake went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and an RBI as Washington State finished with eight hits.
Sean McLain and Jacob Tobias each had one hit for the Sun Devils (25-28, 13-15), who have lost two straight and three of their last four.
Kyle Luckham (7-3) took the loss. He allowed six hits, one walk and both earned runs over the first five innings. He took out four.
Taylor struck out the first six batters he faced before allowing a third baseman Hunter Haas to walk in the third inning. He got the next two outs, then Haas was taken down trying to steal the second by junior catcher Jake Meyer.
“The defense was amazing,” said Taylor, who lowered his ERA this season to 4.67. “I just felt that anything hit on the ground or in the air would be caught.”
In the fourth, McLain singled one out to the middle for Taylor’s first hit before striking out the next two batters.
In the bottom half, the Cougars got the only points they would need. Matthews scored a one-out single, then junior Jacob McKeon doubled to the left, scoring Matthews from first for a 1-0 advantage. One out later, Van De Brake chose a right-hand single, tagging Matthews for an insurance run.
Then, Taylor really took matters into her own hands. After a one-out walk to Kai Murphy in the fifth, Taylor scored the next six he faced before Tobias’ single at center. Will Rogers, however, played a double game to end this threat. Taylor finished the game by striking out the bottom six.
“I know I didn’t put a lot of stress on my arm last week,” said Taylor, whose mother, Kathy, was at the game. “Knowing that my mechanics and my shots were going well, it was just my mentality. I took this into consideration knowing that I would have a short turnaround time.
Both teams play Game 2 of the series at 4:05 p.m. today.
Arizona Street 000 000 000—0 2 0
Washington Street 000 200 00x—2 8 0
Luckham, Levine (6), Bodlovich (8) and Campos; Taylor and Meyer. L—Luckham.