Mississippi State designated hitter Trey Porter was 6-for-10 this weekend with two home runs and four RBIs Photo by: Courtesy of MSU athletics department
February 20, 2012 11:32:00 AM
STARKVILLE - It's only taken three days into the college baseball season for junior-college transfer Trey Porter to get a portion of Dudy Noble Field named after him.
After his solo home run in the sixth inning smacked off the right field light tower to tie the game 2-2, Porter's name will, unofficially, now live in on in Starkville.
"I told him I think they're going to start calling it Porter's pole because I think he hit it twice today," MSU senior relief pitcher Caleb Reed said. "That's what he's shooting for when he swings hard."
Porter's sixth-inning bomb off Washington State reliever Bryce Jackson was one of two comebacks necessary in the Bulldogs 5-4 series finale victory that allowed them to capture the weekend three-game tilt.
Washington State would take a 4-2 lead into the eighth frame before Porter's sacrifice fly cutting the deficit in half would be followed by a strange game-winning play.
Another junior college transfer for MSU, this time in the form of catcher Mitch Slauter, hit an RBI-double to the left center gap and sophomore center fielder C.T. Bradford then added a single with but an overthrow by Cougars catcher Collin Slaybaugh, who his head coach called 'one of the most talented players in the country, allowed Slauter to essentially walk home with the game-winning run.
"We got to be better situationally but I just have this overwhelming feeling that we have the right kids and we're going to be better 50 games from now than we are right now," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Playing a team of this caliber is crucial in my mind."
Porter, a walk-on from Gulf Coast Community College, would finish the weekend leading MSU (2-1) in nearly every hitting category by going 6-for-10 (.600) with two home runs, four runs scored and four RBIs.
"Trey is a good player," Cohen said. "He's a tough kid that gets all over the plate
and is very difficult to pitch to. It didn't take us long during intra-squad that he's a really hard guy to throw strikes to. He makes the most of his opportunities."
The most amazing thing about Porter's ability at the plate is he may not have exactly seen the ball he hit out of Dudy Noble Field and off the light tower which has his name - unofficially.
"Honestly I really didn't see (the ball out of the pitcher's hand)," Porters said with a embarrassed look on his face. "I just kind of swung. I know that sounds awful so don't tell our hitting coach that. I just saw it was up and he wasn't a high velo guy so I swung."
Kendall Graveman, a junior right-hander from Alexander City, Ala., had the only quality start of the weekend for MSU by going 6 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on just three hits with four strikeouts in 83 pitches. Graveman, who was designated as a mid-week mound player last season, is one of six pitchers on the Bulldogs staff fighting for the three weekend rotation spots when Southeastern Conference play begins next month.
"I thought Kendall was outstanding," Cohen said. "If you take away the guy he walks and hits, those are the two runs and they dump that floater into left field (to score). Without those two sequences, he's going to pitch a shutout through six and really so efficient with movement. We're really
excited about him."
Washington State (1-2) again got little production out of its middle-of-the-order sluggers Taylor Ard and Derek Jones while still putting up four runs of offense on a cold night at Dudy Noble Field.
Ard and Jones, the Cougars preseason All-Pacific 12 Conference selections combined to go 4-for-26 (.154), which helped produce its paltry .209 batting average over the weekend.
"Derek and Taylor didn't have great weekends but I thought they were in their own way a bit. That's going to happen," WSU coach Donnie Marbut said. "If you count on two guys, you're going to struggle. The other guys are doing their part around him and if we can get those two guys going then we'll be a pretty decent offense."
The Cougars got an extremely gutsy effort from freshman right-hander Tanner Chleborad in his college debut. Five days after learning the news his older brother was killed in a car accident while serving in the U.S. Marine corps in California, the 18-year-old pitched five innings allowing just one unearned run over four hits while striking out three in 74 pitches. Chleboard, a 24th-round selection by the Seattle Mariners organization last summer despite his home state of South Dakota not having high school baseball, will be traveling back home for the funeral later this month.
"It was all up to him - whatever he wanted to do," Marbut said when asked about whether Chleborad would even make the trip. "He's a very tough kid, very stoic kid but it was a really hard week for him. I was really proud of what he did out there for him. Sometimes you just have to realize this is just a game and it puts everything in perspective. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and it's a tough time. Our team will help him through this whole thing."
Sophomore right-hander Taylor Stark (1-0) earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief work. Stark allowed three hits and one run, with two strikeouts.
MSU will now prepare for next weekend where they'll play four games in three days starting with a 6:30 p.m. matchup against Kansas Friday at Dudy Noble Field.
"That's probably one of the better teams we've ever played to start out a season since I've been here," Reed said.
Mississippi State (2-1) 5,
Washington State (1-2) 4
W - Taylor Stark (1-0) 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K
L - Spencer Jackson (0-1) 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, K
Most Valuable Player: Mississippi State junior designated hitter Trey Porter - 1-for-3 with 2 RBI including a solo home run in the sixth inning. Porter finished 6-for-10 with two home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored with 1.300 slugging percentage.
"I just want to contribute however I can," Porter said. "If they need me to come in against a left-handed pitcher I will. I definitely after the first at-bat had huge butterflies but after you get that first game, first hit out of the way - it's all down to playing baseball. I had pretty good weekends at juco in my freshman and sophomore years."
Turning Point: 8th inning - A leadoff walk issued to Adam Frazier opened the door. Brent Brownlee followed with a double to right field. A sacrifice-fly by Trey Porter brought the score to 4-3. Slauter followed with RBI-double to the left center gap. C.T. Bradford then added a single with an overthrow by the catcher allowing Slauter to trot home with the game-winning run.
Next game: Friday, 6:30 p.m. vs. Kansas
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
5. A Stone's Throw: Waving flags COLUMNS