Hitting a grand slam in baseball is no easy feat at any level, let alone the Little League World Series, which features the world’s best baseball teams for 10-12-year-olds. Not only did Josiah Porter of Nolensville, Tennessee, accomplish the feat Thursday night, it came in a win-or-go-home game.
What’s most incredible — Porter is legally blind in his right eye.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning in a matchup pitting the Southeast (Nolensville) against the Southwest (Pearland, Texas), Porter crushed a 2-1 pitch to center field, giving his team a 4-1 advantage.
— ESPN (@espn) August 25, 2022
The lead would hold up as the Southeast went on to win 7-1, earning a berth in the United States Championship Game on Saturday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Southeast will face the West (Honolulu, Hawaii), which is 4-0 in the tournament and defeated the Southeast 13-0 in four innings on Wednesday. The winner of that game moves on to the LLWS Final against either the Caribbean (Curacao) or Asia-Pacific (Chinese Taipei).
After the grand slam, ESPN reporter Julie Foudy interviewed Josiah’s parents, Brandon and Dinah, in the stands. They shared a bit of Josiah’s story and mentioned how the 12-year-old has relied on his faith in God.
“God had a big thing to do with all of this — keeping our focus on Jesus walking on the water, like Peter walking on the water in the Bible, and being positive,” Brandon said. “That’s been something for Josiah that’s just so critical to his story. We can’t talk about this story without talking about his faith. Josiah stayed positive. Instead of focusing on the storm, the bad things, what he can’t do, he focuses on what he can do.”
"God had a big thing to do with all of this and keeping our focus on Jesus."
Brandon Porter gives powerful words after his son, Josiah (fully blind in the right eye), hits a grand slam to help Tennessee reach the LLWS U.S. championship.
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) August 26, 2022
When Josiah was 6 years old in June 2017, he accidentally walked into a tool shelf on the back of a work truck, according to the Kingsport (Tenn.) Times News. The corner of the shelf directly hit his right eye.
“I heard the screams,” Brandon told the Times News. “I will never forget the screams. He was bleeding out of his eye. I got ice on him and put him in the truck. I drove fast. Too fast. He was holding his eye and crying. It was one of the worst days of my life.”
That night, Brandon, who used to be a pastor, and Dinah prayed with their family — Josiah’s brother, Silas, and three sisters, Sadie, Cassidy, Delaney. They talked about Matthew 14 and the Bible story Brandon referenced in the ESPN interview.
“This was God telling us we couldn’t look at the waves and the storm,” Brandon told the Times News. “If you trust Jesus, He will help you walk above the storm. If we kept looking back, or saying, ‘Josiah won’t be able to do this, and won’t be able to do that,’ that’s looking at the storm. God was telling us to look at Him. This was Josiah’s new situation. It happened. And God is going to do something amazing.”
They also talked about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.
“They said God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, but even if He didn’t they wouldn’t worship that statue,” Brandon told the Times News. “We knew our God could restore vision to Josiah’s eye, but even if He doesn’t we will worship God and trust He has a plan for Josiah.”
The Porters learned the next morning that Josiah’s retina was not detached and doctors could possibly save the eye, maybe even allowing for some sight. Five surgeries later, Josiah has very limited sight in that right eye. He has to battle scar tissue and calcium buildup with occasional cornea scraping procedures, but it allows him to continue playing baseball.
And he obviously plays it well. En route to the Southeast Regional title, Josiah as a pitcher (he also plays outfield) was a part of a perfect game in which he threw a perfect inning — nine strikes for three strikeouts. In the three relief innings he pitched, he struck out all nine batters.
“I can’t tell you how happy and joyful it is to see your child do well,” Brandon told the Times News before the Little League World Series. “You love them no matter what, for who they are and who God created them to be. But it really is fun to see them do well and celebrate with them.”
After Thursday, Josiah is 3-of-9 at the plate with six RBIs and two walks in five games in the LLWS.
“I hope I can influence kids that have the same problems as I do to just not care about it and keep on playing,” Josiah told LittleLeague.org. “Anything’s possible, you just have to believe and focus on your goals and not pay attention to anything else.”
Belief is strong in the Porter household — in Josiah one day being able to see again and in the Lord.
“Josiah doesn’t let this thing define him,” Brandon told the Times News. “He doesn’t like to talk about it because that’s not how he looks at life. It has been amazing. He’s a great young man. He loves God, and he’s sensitive to the problems of other people. He’s in tune when he sees people are hurting or sad. He’s that kind of kid.
“To see Josiah on this stage and doing so well, it’s such an encouragement and a hope. Even if it seems like your world is crushed for whatever reason, don’t give up.”
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