Pitchers aren't supposed to like close games. They want big leads so they can walk out to the mound, relax, throw their stuff and know that if they make a mistake, well, their teammates have them covered.
Taylor Martin isn't one of those pitchers.
The Lawrence High junior won't go so far as to say he doesn't want any run support from his teammates, but one-run contests don't affect him at all.
So it's no wonder that Martin tossed his second two-hitter in his past three starts and had some of his best stuff in the Lions' 3-2 victory against Shawnee Mission South at Ice Field.
"These close games keep me focused," Martin said. "I know I have to stay focused 100 percent because I've got no room for error."
He didn't have any margin for mistakes on a blustery Wednesday evening. In fact, the strong gusts of wind blowing in from the right field might have saved him at least once.
Raider third baseman Tim Barger launched a shot toward left field that probably would have stayed fair if not for the wind, Martin said. But other than that close call, the junior pitcher didn't give up any big hits and doused two Raider rallies.
The junior goaded SM South into stranding five runners in scoring position three Raiders were standing atop third base at the end of innings but his best performance came during the Raiders' last at-bat.
Leading 3-2, Martin gave up a bunt single to senior right fielder Matt Gray, who advanced to second base on shortstop Wes Stanley's sacrifice bunt. After getting left fielder Matt Sparks to fly out to center, lead-off hitter Vince Rodden came to the plate.
Martin threw a pitch in the dirt and when Gray saw that catcher Troy Wingert couldn't handle it he took off for third. Martin didn't get flustered and shook off the aberration and forced Rodden to fly out to end the game.
"He pitched a good game," Lawrence coach David Petry said. "It's his third start of the season and he's been pitching like that for us the whole time. I was pleased with what he did."
As big as Martin was for the Lions (5-3), his complete-game could help Lawrence even more today, Petry said. The game against Shawnee Mission South was a makeup game because of rain earlier this week, and the Lions will face Olathe South at 5:30 tonight.
"Our relief pitchers got a lot of rest," Martin said. "I knew that we had a game tomorrow and that it would help the team if I could go as far as possible and I did what I could."
The Lions trounced SM South pitcher Travis Townsley, knocking him around for three runs and six hits in just 21/3 innings. But as well as LHS hit Townsley, relief pitcher Chris Williams baffled the Lions. The senior allowed just two hits in 32/3 innings and didn't let any Lawrence base-runners past second base.
"He was throwing as hard as their first guy," Petry said. "He had a lot of off-speed stuff and got us a few times."
Lawrence 3, SM South 2
SM South 010 010 0 2 2 0
Lawrence 111 000 x 3 7 1
WPTaylor Martin. LPTravis Townsley.
LHS highlights: Joe Bell 1-for-1, RBI, sacrifice fly; Derek Bailey 2-for-3; Mike Morrell 1-for-3, 3B, run scored; Martin throws complete game.