Tyler Anderson boarded a 12-hour flight Friday from Minneapolis to Taiwan, embarking on an opportunity to represent his country in Asia as a member of the U.S. collegiate national baseball team.
The squad begins a four-game series against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, with Anderson pitching Monday. The Americans then head to Tokyo for the World University Baseball Championships, which begin Friday and end Aug. 7.
"Not only do you grow as a person and get to experience other cultures, but the baseball, you learn how they play the game," said Anderson, a Spring Valley High School graduate who pitches for Oregon. "It will be awesome. They'll have great crowds and a lot of support there."
Anderson and the U.S. team recently faced international competition in the States.
The Americans swept South Korea in five games last week in North Carolina and South Carolina and defeated Japan 4-1 on Wednesday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Anderson, a left-hander, made one start, throwing five innings in a 1-0 victory over South Korea on July 17 in Durham, N.C. He allowed three hits and struck out three.
"I actually felt that, truthfully, nothing was going my way," Anderson said. "My fastball wasn't working well, and I didn't have good command. After the second inning, I picked up my changeup and got the changeup going."
One of the trip's biggest treats was visiting Kansas City on Monday and watching the Royals' 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Anderson came away impressed after getting to hang out with his teammates inside a big league clubhouse.
"To experience what these players experience drives home how much I want to make it," Anderson said.
The junior-to-be was drafted in the 50th round by the Minnesota Twins in 2008 and could try to go pro after next season. But Anderson said he's not ready to think about that possibility.
Anderson has helped resurrect a Ducks program that was dormant for 28 years before being restarted in 2009.
Oregon quickly made the leap from one of the nation's worst teams to earning a regional berth last season.
Anderson went 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 105 strikeouts as a sophomore and was a first-team All-Pac-10 Conference selection.
"It was a great feeling," Anderson said. "My teammates and myself have made a major impact in trying to create a cornerstone."
He will be back in Eugene soon enough to try to build on that success.
For now, Anderson can enjoy his trip to the Far East and competing in the Team USA uniform.
"So far, it's been an unbelievable experience," Anderson said. "To meet all those people, it's been a blessing to play for the U.S."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914.