The Southeastern Conference Player of the Year arrived a day early in Raleigh, North Carolina for the Team USA trials so that he would be well prepared for the opportunity to make the team. The effort wasn't at all lost on Coach Team USA Coach Steve Smith of Baylor University, who has spoken glowingly of LaPorta in several interviews.
It certainly didn't hurt when LaPorta blasted three home runs in the trials game which were held last Thursday afternoon. The Port Charlotte slugger was easily the most impressive player offensively during the four day trials. The squad uses wooden bats in their games.
Florida leads Team USA with three representatives on the twenty-two man squad. Catcher Brian Jeroloman and second baseman Adam Davis are the other two Gators on the roster.
Team USA began summer league play against New England Collegiate League squads. LaPorta ripped a pair of home runs and collected four RBI's in Team USA's 7-0 win over the Keene (NH) Swamp Bats in the second game of the tour.
His first home run was a blast to left center which scored Miami's John Jay in the top of the first. Two innings later, LaPorta brought Jay home again with a shot over the left field wall. A number of major league scouts were on hand feverishly taking notes.
Team USA finished their New England tour with a 3-0 record. It is interesting to note that each of these games was advertised by local media with mention of national home run king Matt LaPorta of national runner-up Florida.
The team left for Japan and played their first game Friday. LaPorta, who is hitting .357 on the trip went two for four with a single and triple in a 7-3 loss. The teams will play again on Saturday.
LaPorta, Davis, Jeroloman and their teammates will also play a five game series in Taiwan before returning to the states to host Italy and Nicaragua.