After a long and tough tournament we were down to our final game. It's not the game we were hoping to be apart of but we still had a chance to equal Australia's best ever finish at a World Cup.
It was an early wake up for us because we had to drive all the way back to Santiago which as you know, is more then a 3 hour drive away. I woke up at 5:45am to get ready to catch the 6:30am bus. One rule about hotels is to not take the pillows outside the hotel, but everyone turned a blind eye to this rule and nearly everyone took a pillow from their room to try and catch some sleep on the ride. For some reason we had a new bus today and the leg room was decreased by about 5 inches. My knees were touching the seat in front of me pretty much the entire trip which was quite uncomfortable.
Finally arrived at Santiago around 9:45am which gave us just over an hour to prepare for the game. Once again it was everyone on their own program to get ready to play. I just went for a run and played a little catch. The game got underway and it was a good old fashioned 'Staff' day where we use the bullpen pitchers to get us through the game. Paul Mildren started, then Kable Hogben threw 2 innings, followed by Justin Erasmus then Steven Kent came in and threw 3 scoreless innings to close it out. Scott Wearne picked up 2 hits today while Mitch Dening hit a home run in the 4th inning.
After starting the tournament on 3 straight losses without scoring a run and then finishing in 5th place, it just shows how strong the Aussie spirit is. We could of easily sat back and relaxed and just go through the motions but after our day off we found some inspiration and a never say die attitude which sent us on a 7-2 run for our final 9 games with only a pair of tough 2-1 losses against the USA and Netherlands stopping us from playing for a gold medal. We were a very young team with the average age being 24 years old and we also had 10 rookies on the team who experienced the World Cup for the first time. There's no reason that in the next few years that we can't be playing in a gold medal game at a World Cup.
As for me, I only threw 1 1/3 innings this tournament which was in game 1 against Cuba. I didn't get much experience on field, but everything I learnt just by sitting on the bench and talking to all the veteran players was just as valuable to me. Some people may be disappointed that they didn't get much game time, but not me. It was an honour and a privilege to wear the Australian colours every day and to be able to stand out on that field and sing the national anthem . I'm still young so I know I will have more opportunity in the future to represent Australia. In the last 18 months I have gone from being the oldest player at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy to the youngest player on the men's national team. Not too bad if you ask me.