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No. 6 Oregon State holds off a Washington State rally in 'Pac-2' showdown

May 4—PULLMAN — It was a scenario that's played out time and time again for the Washington State baseball team this season.

The Cougars (19-25, 7-15 Pac-12) either hold a narrow lead or are one hit away from walking off a game and instead the opponent gets the walk-off wallop or the strikeout it needs to steal the victory.

It happened again down one run against No. 6 Oregon State (34-11, 13-8) with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth Friday at Bailey-Brayton Field. WSU's Cole Cramer battled through a nine-pitch at-bat that included four foul balls before OSU pitcher Bridger Holmes finally zipped the ball past his swinging bat for the final out of the game.

Beavers 2, Cougars 1.

"It was a great at-bat by our last guy," WSU coach Nathan Choate said. "He was scratching and fighting and clawing, and that's baseball.

"I thought we did a really good job putting the winning run in scoring position. ... We fought and competed and just came up a little bit short."

WSU is 4-9 in one-run games this season. The Cougars are 1-3 in one-run games in their last two series alone, including a heartbreaking 0-2 against No. 19 Arizona with one of the losses going 11 innings and the other coming one run short on a three-run rally in the ninth.

Choate hasn't seen anything like it before.

"We've had more difficult losses this year than I've probably ever been a part of," Choate said. "And the fact that they continue to stay together and choose to fight and, like I said, scratch and claw — I think that says a lot about who they are as people."

WSU's Taylor, OSU's May put on pitching clinic

Ace pitchers Grant Taylor of WSU and Aiden May of the Beavs put on a clinic in a game where runs were hard to come by for both sides.

Taylor fanned 10 batters for the second straight start and third time this season, but fell to 4-3 with the loss. He went six innings.

May, coming off a 14-strikeout performance last Friday against Oregon, struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings of work to earn the win.

Taylor had just two hiccups:

Allowing OSU's Gavin Turley to crush a no-doubter home run well past the trees beyond the wall in left field in the second.

And allowing a bases-loaded walk to score a run in the third. He later struck out two straight batters to end the inning.

"Grant's had a lot of really good games this year — today was my favorite," Choate said. "I thought it was a gutsy, gritty performance, kept the team in the game and left it all out there."

Ninth-inning rally

After two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Cougars made it interesting.

Nate Swarts was walked and pinch-hitter Ely Kennel was hit by a pitch to get two runners on base. Then, Logan Johnstone hammered a single to the right-field corner to score Swarts for WSU's first run of the day to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Cougars loaded the bases after Kyle Russell was hit by a pitch, moving the go-ahead runner to scoring position and the tying runner to third.

That's when WSU's Cramer and OSU's Holmes battled through the long final at-bat of the contest.

Odds and ends

OSU shortstop Elijah Hainline made a return to Bailey-Brayton Field, where he played 99 games for the Cougars over the last two seasons.

Hainline went 0-for-4 against his old team with no strikeouts.

Up next

The three-game series continues at 6 p.m. today (Pac-12 Networks) at the same site.

"They're deep positionally and on the mound — not just one or two guys, they're deep all the way through their team," Choate said of OSU. "You've gotta be on your game and I thought we gave them a pretty good fight tonight, just came up a little bit short."

OSU 011 000 000—2 4 0

WSU 000 000 001—1 6 0

Aiden May, Joey Mundt (7), Bridger Holmes (9) and Tanner Smith; Grant Taylor, Spencer Jones (7), Andrew Baughn (7), Kaden Wickersham (8) and Jacob Morrow. W—May (4-0); L—Taylor (4-3).

Oregon State hits — Gavin Turley (HR), Travis Bazzano (2B), Micah McDowell, Tanner Smith.

Washington State hits — Logan Johnstone 2, Crew Parke 2, Max Hartman, Joey Kramer.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.