By KIRK HARDCASTLE
NIACC sports information director
NIACC freshman Mitch Neunborn and former Trojan pitcher Nick Veale will represent Australia in the 23-under Baseball World Cup, which starts Friday in Monterrey, Mexico.
The 12-team tournament runs from Friday through Nov. 6. Other countries playing in the year's top international baseball tournament are Austria, Nicaragua, Argentina, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Venezuela, Korea, Panama, South Africa, and the Czech Republic.
Neunborn and Veale will be pitchers on Australia's 24-man roster.
"It means the world to play for your country," Neunborn said. "I've played thousands of times, but the most memorable and unforgettable time is when you are playing for your country.
"To put on the green and gold is unlike anything. I think that will help me get more exposure in the baseball community. The experience that you get out of an event like this unbelievable. You learn so much about the game and more importantly about yourself.'
Australia opens the pool play part of the World Cup on Friday against Austria. Australia also plays Nicaragua, Chinese Taipei, Argentina and Japan in pool play.
NIACC baseball coach Travis Hergert said players take an unbelievable amount of pride in playing for their country.
Former NIACC players Lucas Bakker and Robbie Glendinning have also represented Australia in international tournaments.
"I remember Bakker telling me when he played on the 18-under team that beat Cuba to get to the gold medal game," Hergert said. "He talked about how neat it was to play for his country. It's a great honor for them."
Neunborn also competed for Australia in the most recent 18-under World Cup last year.
"I've been lucky enough to play for Australia multiple times," he said. "The biggest was last year in August we headed to Japan to compete in the U18 World Cup. There is nothing like it."
Hergert has developed an Australian pipeline in his first four years as coach of the Trojans. Players such as Bakker, Glendinning, Troy Bullingham, Veale and Brandon Michie have helped the Trojans reach the NJCAA Division II World Series three of the last four seasons.
"It's vastly important," the coach said. "It's a huge part of our recruiting.
"We have seven on our roster right now. To continue to bring that pool of talent over to go along with our American kids is a great blend. They bring so much to the table as far as an edge. Every single one of them that we've brought over has been a key contributor to our program over the last four years.
"They are your best ambassadors. They're going to contact the guys that have been here before. If they continue to have great experiences here that pipeline will be strong for years to come."
Hergert said Neunborn will pitch and play on the left side of the infield for the Trojans in the spring.
"He's one of our best players on both sides of the ball," Hergert said. "He's one of our top pitchers. How we use him and in what capacity we're not exactly sure yet. We will let that play out when the season comes around. He's a dynamic arm. He's 88 to 91 mph. He's a four-pitch guy with a wipeout slider and he's very athletic. He's an all-around talented player and has a bright future ahead of him."
Veale, who also pitches for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League, ranks third on NIACC's all-time win list with 13 career wins. He also ranks fifth on NIACC's career strikeout list with 107.
"He's one of my favorites of all-time," Hergert said. "One of his coaches once said that Nick is cut from a different cloth and that is so true.
"Nick doesn't have overpowering stuff but he knows how to pitch and is an absolute bulldog. He's what you want out of any pitcher. He was one of the pioneers that got our program off the ground here to national recognition. I'm very proud of him."