An incredible summer of baseball complete, Ian Anderson made his way back home to Rexford Tuesday night after helping USA Baseball win a gold medal in the 2015 WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup.
Anderson, a 17-year-old senior at Shenendehowa who is committed to pitch collegiately at Vanderbilt University, made two appearances for Team USA while it played in Japan. He struck out eight in 6 2⁄3 innings, recorded a save, and allowed three runs — one of which was earned.
Team USA won the gold medal game of the tournament Sunday against Japan with a 2-1 victory. Anderson did not pitch in the title game.
Anderson gathered with members of the media Wednesday to discuss his whirlwind summer and winning gold with Team USA. Here, he describes his experience, in his words:
“The USA thing really all started for me when I was in my bed one night. I got a call from the team’s director, and he invited me to the Tournament of Stars, which was the first part of the tryout. He really just asked me then what it would mean to me to represent the country, why I’d want to represent the USA. That really hit me hard. I realized it was something I wanted to do. It was awesome to get that call.”
Anderson made it through the Tournament of Stars in North Carolina, and several subsequent cuts to whittle down a pool of players that originally began with well more than 100. In the end, Anderson was one of 20 players picked for Team USA after two months of tryouts.
“You had to go into it thinking you could do it, that you could make it. My goal, really, was never to make the team — it was to win a gold medal. Obviously, I had to make the team to do that, but that was just another step in the process.”
When Anderson made the team, he described himself as “speechless,” but he quickly regained his composure.
“Probably the next day at practice [I regained my focus], when you realize just making the team wasn’t the ultimate goal. Obviously, winning gold was, and it felt great to accomplish that — and it wasn’t easy. We lost to Japan, but I had no doubt we’d bounce back.”
Anderson’s squad did bounce back from its lone loss in the tournament, avenging its pool-play defeat against Japan in the title game to finish 8-1 and as world champions.
“Playing in Japan, they had 15, 20 thousand people all cheering against us, so it felt good to break some hearts over there [laughs]. . . . It was a phenomenal experience, one I hope to get again, but you never know, so you really just have to take it all in. I think I did that. Obviously, winning gold was great for our country and, at the end of the day, it was about representing the USA because it means so much more than myself. . . . I can mostly remember everything that happened this summer, I could probably tell you about most of the games and all the scores. I enjoyed every second of it. It’s tough to forget anything.”
Along with his Team USA selection, Anderson also saw his stock as a prospect rise dramatically this summer. In most rankings, he is now a top-5 player in his class, but he has not given much thought to what could happen next June when the Major League Baseball amateur draft rolls around.
“I’m focused on what I have in front of me right now, and that’s getting ready for the Shen season. Whatever happens, happens. That’s the way I look at it, and now I’m looking forward to whatever path I go down.”