Senior catcher Andrew Giobbi will provide updates during the team's trip to Japan this week.
With a full day of baseball ahead of us, we had to take on the challenge of two very good Japanese teams today. Our opening game yesterday went pretty well, with only a few minor mistakes. The young players on the team have done a tremendous job of hanging tough in a different environment that they aren't used to.
The Bus trip took us about 45 minutes through the streets of Tokyo. It's a big topic of discussion from the players about the size of the city. There are limited highways, so most of the trips to different ballparks consist of city streets and tight turns. Every left hand turn we make are indicated by the dismay on the faces of our fine young athletes who think we are still on the incorrect side of the road. Needless to say, some of us are not the brightest bulbs in the closet. Understandably, some of the middle Tennessee products are not only at Vanderbilt for their good looks.
We traveled to Meiji University, home of the Fall World Series champions of Japan, to play against Aoyama Gakuin University and the home team shortly after. The initial reaction of the players was shock due to the field surface. The outfield was all astro-turf and the infield had zero `green' on it; it was all dirt. The fence lines are measured in meters, instead of feet in the United States. The entire setting is a culture change in itself.
Taylor Hill was the story in game one. He threw six scoreless innings against the highly touted Aoyama team. Accompanied by stellar defense, we played a typical "Vanderbilt" style of game, taking the victory, 1-0 (game recap). The lineup in this particular game threw a curveball at the opposition (no pun intended). No player on our squad played the same position as the last game, which demands depth, which we have clearly shown. I think Vanderbilt baseball fans will see a different team this year, looking into the crystal ball of the future. If this is any indication of our season, there should be lots of players coming off the bench and participating in each game for the situation at hand.
Game 2 (recap) was more of the same. Chase Reid started and threw well, but his pitch count only allotted him 3 innings worth of work. This is no indication of how he threw because catching him I thought he threw well. He had a beautiful 3-pitch mix that he used to his advantage, keeping the Meiji hitters off balance. Collectively, we did hit better as a team in this game, but the left-handed pitcher from Meiji also did a very nice job, with a similar 3-pitch mix.
The Japan trip, thus far, has been a neat experience for all of us. Seeing a different side of the world has been an eye-opening experience as well. Everything from the food, to the style of play, to the every day interactions has broadened our horizons to a certain extent. The Vanderbilt baseball team, hopefully, has brought upon the same experiences to others as we have made this trip. Only hoping to succeed and be better, we strive for more of the same in the next couple of days throughout the remainder of the trip.