OMAHA, Neb. — There’s never a dull moment in the Mississippi State dugout thanks to a group of players who call themselves the “Bench Mobb.”
Before Friday’s game against Oregon State, a half-dozen Mobb members picked up Ross Mitchell, did a chant on the dugout steps and gave him the heave-ho onto the field. It’s the same way the Mobb starts every game.
“Those guys are crazy,” first baseman Wes Rea said. “They play a huge role on this team, as funny as it may be. They keep everybody locked in and keep the intensity up, and it’s a major factor in a game situation.”
The Mobb got its due after pinch-hitter Trey Porter drove in the winning run in the eighth inning of a 5-4 win over Indiana on Monday. Asked how he kept his edge when he had played so little the past month, Porter said, “I’ll give 100 percent of the credit to the Bench Mobb.”
Pitchers Ross Mitchell, Evan Mitchell (no relation) and Jacob Lindgren are the founding members, with players coming and going as they please.
The Mobb goes through a series of rituals, starting in the first inning when the boys hoot and holler and, as Evan Mitchell said, “try to make the other pitcher feel bad about himself.”
Another Mobb member, Trevor Fitts, leads a sect of players who unbutton their jerseys and bare their chests — “Team No Undershirt” they call themselves — when the Bulldogs need a little jolt of mojo.
Mobbsters take turns freestyle rapping in the third inning or whenever the Bulldogs are at bat and need a hit.
The Mobb made a 4 1/2-minute rap video that has attracted almost 17,000 YouTube views since being posted last week.
Ross Mitchell is 13-0 as a reliever. No doubt, Bench Mobb karma has helped him.
He says he doesn’t worry about his statistics. He said he would rather be a great teammate than a great player.
Spoken like a true Mobb boss.
Eyes are right
Oregon State center fielder Max Gordon was back in the lineup Friday after missing Wednesday’s game because of a problem with a contact lens.
Gordon was taken off the lineup card about a half-hour before the game against Indiana because he couldn’t see out of his right eye. He tweeted that he had put his contacts in allergy eye drops on Tuesday night, and a concentration of the medicine on the right contact caused his eye to dialate when he put the contact in on Wednesday.
Coach Pat Casey said he never had a player miss a game because of excessive eye dialation.
“They always tell you, you’ll never see everything in this game,” Casey said. “When you say, ‘I’ve seen everything,’ you haven’t seen everything.”
Bigger goals ahead
UCLA pitcher Grant Watson can sense a change in the attitude of the Bruins after losing two of three games at last year’s CWS.
“We’re a lot more hungry than last year,” he said. “Yeah, we wanted to win it all, but getting to Omaha was a great goal that we reached. We got complacent with that. This year, we know we made it to Omaha but we have some unfinished business to take care of.”
UCLA fell flat last year after opening with a 9-1 win over Stony Brook. The Bruins were eliminated with losses of 4-0 to Arizona and 4-1 to Florida State.
They went into Friday needing one win to reach the CWS finals.
Mississippi State batters did not strike out even once against Oregon State.
It was the first time at the CWS that a team hadn’t struck out since 2001, when Stanford did not strike out against Cal State Fullerton.
Mississippi State had not had a game with no strikeouts since at least 2006. Records weren’t available before that year.