Wahl picked up a pair of saves against the Cuban National Team to start international play.
July 11, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. – It’s been a hectic few weeks for junior right-hander Bobby Wahl, as the Ole Miss pitcher has been competing with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team this summer.
Wahl began competition with the team on June 25 when the Collegiate National Team took on Fayetteville Swamp Dogs in the first of four “exhibition” games against collegiate summer league teams in the North Carolina area and emerged with a 4-0 record.
The squad then competed in the Prospect Showcase with members of the Collegiate National Team and 18U squads being split and combined into the Stars and Stripes squads to face-off in the second year of the classic.
Following the showcase, it was time for the USA Collegiate National Team to head overseas to begin international competition in preparation for the 26th Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week – an international invitational tournament. The invitational was first held in 1961 and has been held every other year in even numbered years since 1972.
“It’s been an unreal experience, being able to play with some of the best players in the country,” Wahl said from the airport in Houston awaiting boarding for his flight to Amsterdam. “I’m learning things from the other pitchers and have been facing some of the top hitters in the nation and the world.”
Wahl has been serving primarily as a reliever for the Collegiate National Team, making four appearances to date with a pair of saves. He has struck out nine batters and walked only three while surrendering one hit in his four appearances. The right-hander has not allowed a run.
His two saves came against the Cuban National Team in the series opener on July 5, and the series finale on July 9. They were the only two wins for Team USA in the five-game series.
It was at the friendly series against Cuba that Wahl experienced the best, and most profound, moment of the USA Baseball competition.
“Hearing the national anthem at Cuba was the best moment of this experience for me,” Wahl said. “I don’t think I really understood it all until then. I don’t think you can appreciate it on the same level. But, when you’re out there and you’re wearing your nation’s colors and hear your national anthem as a foreigner in another country – it really hits you. It was simply an amazing feeling in that moment.”
The trip to Cuba was the beginning of a new experience for Wahl, who had never been overseas beyond a trip to the Bahamas when he was in the ninth grade. Now, the junior at Ole Miss is continuing that experience with the trip to The Netherlands for the Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week competition that will begin on Saturday, July 14.
The Collegiate National Team will open play at the invitational against Japan at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday as the first of five games before play proceeds to the semifinal round. Team USA will also face Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chinese-Taipei and The Netherlands.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to play against guys from all over the world,” Wahl said of the upcoming competition. “It will be exciting to face guys who are getting the same opportunity to represent their country in international competition like I am. I hope to get to meet some really cool people and trade gear with other guys. I’m looking forward to maybe learning a little bit of some new languages and cultures.”
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