WSU baseball top five games of the season: May 19 vs. Arizona State

Grant Taylor dazzles, Cougars would sweep Sun Devils

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KHOI VU

WSU pitcher Grant Taylor throws a pitch during an NCAA collegiate baseball game, April 2, at Bailey-Brayton Field.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

After WSU got swept by the UCLA Bruins the week prior to the final series of the season, the Cougs were knocked out of contention for the first-ever Pac-12 conference baseball tournament. WSU would go on to finish ninth in the conference while the Arizona State Sun Devils secured the eighth and final spot in the tournament despite being swept by the Cougs in Pullman to end the regular season.

During the Cougs’ final home series of the season, WSU faced the Sun Devils for a three-game series. WSU would go on to sweep the Sun Devils in convincing fashion, scoring 22 runs, and giving up nine in all three games combined.

The first game of the series was one of the Cougs top five games of the season as pitcher Grant Taylor ended his season on a high note. He pitched a complete nine-inning game and gave up zero runs on two hits and seven strikeouts. The Cougs would win the game 2-0 and have eight hits to help them score their two runs, but the brilliance of Talyor on the mound is what stole the show for WSU. 

The first inning was a three-up three-down for the Sun Devils with a groundout, strikeout and flyout on six pitches from Taylor. WSU couldn’t produce early as they had a three-up three-down inning of their own with a strikeout and two ground outs to end the first inning scoreless. 

Just like the first inning, both teams went three-up three-down. Taylor only threw 12 pitches in the inning to bring his total pitches to 18 after two innings. Justin Van De Brake walked in the inning, but Kyle Russell grounded into a double play with the next at-bat to end the inning. 

After a leadoff walk for the Sun Devils the next two batters got out and the runner that walked was thrown out as he attempted to steal second to end the inning. The Cougs still couldn’t produce a hit and ended their offensive inning on 11 pitches. 

The Sun Devils first hit of the game came in the top of the fourth with a one-out single. After the hit, the next two batters struck out to strand the baserunner.

The Cougs scored their two and only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Bryce Matthews singled with one out which was followed with an RBI double from Jacob McKeon which scored Matthews from first. Justin Van De Brake then drove in McKeon with an RBI single to take the 2-0 lead after four innings.

After Taylor gave up a one-out walk the next two batters got out to strand the Sun Devil runner yet again. WSU had back-to-back two-out singles from Kodie Kolden and Matthews in the inning but could not produce and stranded them both. 

The Sun Devils had another three-up three-down inning in the sixth but produced another one for the WSU offense as Russell grounded into a double play after Van De Brake walked.

In the seventh, the Sun Devils got their second hit of the game with a single, but the next batter grounded into a double play to end the inning for Arizona State. After a Collin Montez single and Kolden walk they were stranded on base as Matthews struck out to end the inning and head into the eighth. 

Taylor threw 14 pitches in the eighth inning and got a three-up three-down with two strikeouts to keep the zero on the board for the Sun Devils. The Cougs got a single from Van De Brake but couldn’t score him and the inning ended with WSU up 2-0 heading into the ninth.

The ninth inning was Taylor’s final three-up three-down for WSU as he struck out the first batter and the next two popped out to end the game and give Taylor the complete-game victory. 

This game was the start of WSU’s final series of 2022 where they swept the Sun Devils. The Cougs’ season would end following the Arizona State series, while the Sun Devils went on to the Pac-12 conference tournament where they lost to Stanford, then beat Oregon and then lost in the quarterfinals to rival Arizona Wildcats to end their season.