Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Mississippi State's Tanner Allen prayed before crucial College World Series home run

Through seven innings Tuesday night, it looked as though the Mississippi State Bulldogs would be facing an elimination game at the College World Series.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

The Bulldogs had not recorded a hit and trailed the Virginia Cavaliers, 4-0. Yet, MSU had life when Scotty Dubrule drew a walk to lead off the top of the eighth. Kellum Clark broke up the no-hitter with a home run two batters later, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

Rowdey Jordan followed up pinch hitter Josh Hatcher’s single with a double of his own, setting the stage for outfielder Tanner Allen. Before Allen stepped into the batter’s box, however, he asked God to help him keep his crucial at-bat in perspective.

“I kind of prayed,” Allen said after the game. “I said, ‘Lord, I know this is a big moment.’ I just told Him, ‘I want You to know, if I succeed or not, I am still thankful for the ability You’ve given me and the opportunity You’ve given me to be in this moment.'”

The senior succeeded in a huge way, driving a ball into the bullpen beyond the right-field wall to give Mississippi State its first lead of the game. It was his first hit in two games at the College World Series.

The Bulldogs added a sixth run in the inning and were able to hold on for a 6-5 victory that kept them in the winners bracket.

“I know this sounds crazy but the ability to take a punch and keep playing is one of our greatest assets we have,” head coach Chris Lemonis said after the game. “We’ve taken punches all year long. We take punches — that’s one thing in our league and playing against the best every weekend is, man, you get knocked back and you’ve got to stand up and fight. And our kids, that’s what they do.”

Allen echoed his coach’s sentiment in an on-field interview with ESPN’s Kris Budden.

“We just believe in each other,” he said. “It’s a hard game, man. This game will bring you to your knees so fast, but we just stick with it and keep playing and good things happen.”

Ole Miss star Tim Elko saw a tweet about Allen’s prayer before hitting the home run and quoted it. Elko wrote, “God hears you and He loves this.. always thankful in every situation.. Glory to God!”

Similar to Elko, his in-state SEC rival, Allen uses social media to share about his faith. His Twitter bio says he is “Spreading His word through Baseball, Huntin, and Fishin.” During his sophomore year, Allen was tagged in a tweet by a Mississippi State fan and pastor whose son was battling cancer. Allen included 1 Chronicles 16:11 in his response; the verse says, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

Allen has been a standout performer for the Bulldogs all season, hitting .383 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs in 62 games. The Theodore, Alabama, native was named SEC Player of the Year in May after leading the conference in batting average (.387) in the regular season.

His game-winning home run Tuesday means the Bulldogs do not take the field again until 7 p.m. ET Friday night, when they play the winner of Thursday night’s game between Texas and Virginia.

Either foe would need to defeat Mississippi State twice to reach the College World Series finals, while the Bulldogs just need one win to advance in the double-elimination tournament. It would be just the second title series appearance in MSU program history.

RELATED STORIES:
Tennessee’s Jake Rucker places trust in God as team attempts to avoid elimination
Robert Moore finds identity in Jesus, leads No. 1 Arkansas baseball into NCAA Tournament
New Houston Baptist baseball coach Lance Berkman aims to influence kids ‘for the good’
Ole Miss captain Tim Elko wants Christ to shine through him as he plays on torn ACL