Porter steps up to the plate
MSU senior brought in as pinch hitter, scores game-winner
OMAHA, Neb. -- Mississippi State senior Trey Porter may not get many chances to step to the plate, but he made the most of his opportunity in the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind 5-4 victory against Indiana in the College World Series on Monday night.
The Bulldogs trailed 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning when Porter got his shot to shine. He ripped a line drive deep to right-center drawing gasps from the crowd of 25,260 at TD Ameritrade Park, but IU rightfielder Will Nolden caught Porter’s ball, ending the inning and stranding three runners on base.
“I caught it just a little bit up on the barrel, but I thought it could have had a chance maybe hit the wall,” Porter said. “I knew the way this park plays is it's possible to get one to leave the yard. I was hoping it would get down, maybe bounce around for a double because I'm not ever going to get a triple.”
Mississippi State continued to chip away, tying the game at three on an RBI-single by Demarcus Henderson in the eighth inning. Again, Porter walked to the plate with a pair of runners in scoring position and two outs.
This time, Porter didn’t disappoint. He hit another line drive to right-center, which dropped in for what proved to be the eventual game-winning two-run single.
“I knew I was going to get a chance at a fastball and put the barrel out there and see what could happen,” Porter said.
“I mean that ball's hit at somebody, no big deal,” Indiana head coach Tracy Smith said. “They just happened to fall. I'm not going to make more out of it than there is. I thought [pitcher] Ryan [Halstead] did his job. Mississippi State hitters did their job.”
Previously, Porter had appeared in just two NCAA postseason games, batting .250 (1-for-4) with an RBI against Virginia on June 8. He’s had only seven at bats in the past month, but Mississippi State head coach John Cohen had the confidence to stay with Porter in the eighth when the scoring opportunity presented itself once again.
“After his first at-bat I thought he saw the baseball really well,” Mississippi State John Cohen said. “I thought he was in the flow of the game. It was difficult to sit there for two hours and come up there and be in sync and I don't know how close to the ball he hit earlier in the ballgame came to getting out, but he got good barrel to it.
“When I'm watching our guys hit, I'm not even watching the pitcher. I'm looking at the rhythm of the hitter trying to decide if he's in rhythm and if he's going to take good swings. And I felt like he was going to take good swings because he was in a good rhythm.”
Porter, a native of Hurley, Miss., relished in his moment on college baseball’s biggest stage, which helped put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat of bracket one.
“I guess being a kid from a small hometown, kind of the story with most of the guys out here you set out to play in the top level being in the College World Series one day, but you never see it happening because [there's] so many baseball players out there, so much talent,” Porter said. “But it's just a great feeling and couldn't say more about the guys around me. I just happened to step in the box when the game was on the line and anybody else could have stepped up on this team that's how we are. We fight until the end, we never give up.”