Follow the Waves in Taiwan
TAINAN CITY, Taiwan -- The Pepperdine baseball team travels to Taiwan this week for the 2013 Formosa Cup International University Baseball Challenge, competing against teams from Japan (Jobu University), Korea (Dongguk University) and Taiwan (Chinese Cultural University) as part of the international exhibition.
As part of pepperdinesports.com's continuing coverage of the event, player and coach blogs will be posted on this page, chronicling the team's journey on and off the field.
With a 16-hour time difference between Taiwan and California, the Waves open play against Chinese Cultural on Thursday at 2:30 a.m. (PT), then face Jobu Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (PT) before concluding play against Dongguk Friday at 8:30 p.m. (PT). Fans can follow live updates from each game on Twitter at @PeppBaseball and check back in with pepperdinesports.com for game recaps.
Steve Rodriguez - Head Coach (Thursday, Nov. 28)
Talk about the day that never ended.....we took off from LAX at about 11:30pm on Tuesday night, and then the longest day began. We spent 15 hours on a plane (China Airlines was very impressive), and once we landed we noticed that we had all of our bags except for one, the ball bag. Not good for a baseball team. Our ball bag got stuck on a conveyor belt back in Los Angeles, so we had to make do.
So we landed in Taipei at approximately 6:45 a.m. (Taiwan time) and grab the bags we have so we can jump on two double-decker buses enroute to Tainan. We checked into a phenomenal hotel called the Landis Hotel and Resort at about 12:30 p.m. We had a great lunch at the hotel, quickly changed, and jumped on the buses to head toward the field which is a short distance away from the hotel.
The field is an older field. It is about 65 years old I was told.
We did our pregame routine and got ready for opening ceremonies which begin at 6 p.m. I was asked to speak (didn't know I was supposed to until we got there), and the mayor of Tainan threw out the first pitch. There was a band that played through the whole game (even during pitches). That made for an amazing experience for our guys.
The game was a very impressive display by our team. We had been on the go for about 48 hours, and they came out and competed as well as I could have imagined. I was very proud of our guys and the effort they gave tonight, as the Waves beat the host Taiwan team with a dramatic walk-off single by Bryan Lagnlois. So as our guys celebrated with a dogpile by second base, I know they will be happy to finally get some sleep. We will be playing Japan tomorrow a 12:30 p.m.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home. We hope you all have an amazing day. I know all of us Waves want to give thanks for all of our blessings and the safety and opportunity of this amazing trip which we are allowed to experience.
Corey Miller - SR, RHP (Friday, Nov. 29)
After what some of us can call the longest travel day of our lives and an incredible ninth inning walk-off win, it was nice to finally get some good sleep. It was somewhat of an early morning waking up for our 8:30am breakfast at the hotel and we really didn't know what kind of food to expect. To our surprise, there were all sorts of American breakfast foods laid out for us, including scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, sausage, and even pancakes. After enjoying a delicious breakfast provided by Landis Hotel in Tainan, we went back to our rooms and got ready to leave for our next game against Japan.
We got to the field and prepared for batting practice. While shagging out in the outfield a few of our players and myself attempted to have a conversation with some of the players on the Japan team. Although the language barrier was tough to get through, we all were able to understand each other through the universal language of baseball. We talked to them about some of their favorite MLB players, which included Ichiro, Darvish, Matsuzaka, and Mariano Rivera. Afterwards, we went into the clubhouse to have our pregame meal, which consisted of KFC chicken sandwiches and fries.
Game 2 against Japan was great to watch some of the younger guys come through for the team. Manny Jefferson had a clutch two-out, two RBI double to put us ahead early in the game, followed by Bryan Langlois' two RBI single down the right field line to extend the lead. Jackson McClelland pitched very well today and was followed by Matt Maurer to finish out the game and put us at 2-0 for the tournament, with one game to go against South Korea.
We got back to the hotel and some of us decided to walk around the city and eventually ended up at the local mall. With most of us wearing our orange gear and the height that most of us have, you couldn't miss us. We got to meet some of the locals, take a few pictures, and sign some autographs, while checking out some of the stores and food market. We later came back, had some dinner, and explored the fitness center of our hotel. We played some pool, ping-pong, and some of us went in the spa.
Throughout the day, we all were receiving pictures from our friends and families back home of all the Thanksgiving festivities and food that we had been missing out on. Although all of us wish we could be spending Thanksgiving at home with our families, we are loving this opportunity to play in the Formosa Cup. Everyone in Taiwan has been so nice and welcoming to our team. This trip has been incredible so far and has been a great team bonding experience for us.
Matt Maurer - SR, RHP (Saturday, Nov. 30)
Waking up today was amazing. I rose with the sun and quite possibly had the best view in Tainan, Taiwan. The Landis Hotel is one of the taller building around and gave me a great view of the city as I was rooming on the 22nd floor. I took a shower in what I can only describe as bliss. Being on the road, everyone is always tired and when you can start the morning of with an amazing shower, it has the makings for a great day.
Breakfast- My favorite meal of the day. The breakfast bar was unbelievable, having every type of food that you could imagine. Food ranged from American breakfast to sushi, and salads were even available. The fruits were of every variety and the passion fruit is what caught my eye. Actually Coach Rod got me to try it and I'm glad I did. They didn't have the most appealing look with green gooey middle and the rather large black seeds, but the sweet yet sour taste was fantastic. Of course, the coffee machine can't be forgotten. Everyone that drinks coffee was at the machine multiple times during breakfast. They had espresso and coffee, which provided the caffeine that kept many of us from just falling down from exhaustion.
The game- when we get to the field it is time to get work done. We got through our pregame routine and by this time we are all pretty hungry. This is when they bring the little bit of lunch to us. Pretty much the whole team was tired of fish and food we really weren't sure about. Then, they brought us the food. It was KFC and it was though we had not eaten in a week. Everyone is yelling and making noise over the arrival of chicken sandwiches, French fries, and Pepsi. Of course we are excited because we all know that greasy food and soda is the perfect makings for a win. Anyway, the food gave us a huge burst of energy and got us going early. We ended up getting a pretty large lead and Coach Rod gave Eric Karch and me, pitchers, a chance to hit. I must say we looked really good swinging the bat, but I don't think we even made contact with our swings. In any case, it was fun and hilarious watching us attempt to re live our high school hitting days.
The Awards ceremony- This is a pretty interesting event. Much of the event was not in English so we really had no idea what was going. So, when everyone else clapped we clapped. The ceremony had Brian Langlois winning the MVP of the tournament. And concluded with us raising the championship trophy.
After the ceremony concluded, the fun and language barrier began. All four of the teams were trying to take pictures with each other, but at that point it became a mad house. Everyone was pointing and holding their phones out wanting their pictures taken. Meanwhile, the stadium was playing some good American tunes and even our pitching coach, Jon Strauss, got into the action and threw in his old school dance moves. #classic
Drew Hacker, SR, 3B (Sunday, Dec. 1)
Today was a whirlwind! We can all say that we are not only world travelers, but also time travelers. We departed from Taipei on Sunday at 6 pm, and landed in Los Angeles on Sunday at 2 pm. What a day!
Our last day in Taiwan started at 6:30 am with breakfast at the expansive breakfast buffet at the hotel, which proved to be everyone's favorite meal on the trip. Breakfast was the most pivotal meal of the day because it had the largest selection of American food of all the meals we had in Taiwan. From French toast to potatoes to pancakes to cereal, we sure indulged. The blueberry Danishes seemed to be everyone's favorite. For the more adventurous, there were plenty of Taiwanese options, including sushi, miso soup, and salad (for breakfast!).
By 7:15 a.m., we were checked out of our five star Taiwanese hotel and on the bus headed to Taipei. The bus ride was quite entertaining. Chandler Blanchard and Ian Doughty used the microphones on the bus in order to lead our bus in karaoke and some friendly roasting of teammates. They even were able to get me up to sing a little Journey! This definitely made the four hour drive to Taipei pass quickly.
In Taipei, we visited the Taipei 101 building, which is among the tallest skyscrapers in the world. We went to the 89th floor, set high above the heart of Taipei, and were able to take in the beauty of the city that we missed when driving amidst their crowded, apartment-lined streets. Taipei 101 is known for its elevator. It has the fastest elevator in the world--it only took us 37 seconds to reach the observation deck! We were all popping our ears as we adjusted to the altitude change on the way up. At the top, we discovered who feared heights, especially when it came to the outdoor observation area. Brandon Caruso conquered his fear with the moral support of Eric Karch (and his hand)! After being in smaller Tainan City in the south, it was an eye opening experience to see the dense city of Taipei.
After visiting the Taipei 101 building, we went to Pizza Hut for lunch, one of the only American options in the city. At the buffet, there were pizzas with squid and fish, as well as BBQ chicken and fried rice. Let's just say the pepperoni pizza went quickly! It was fun to experience Pizza Hut in a different country and to see the rather strange additions the Taiwanese made to their pizzas.
Then, we made our way back to the airport. We could all say that we were ready to come home; however, all of us agreed that it was a memorable trip. The Waves swept into Taiwan and took the Formosa Cup. We were truly blessed by the Taiwanese with amazing hospitality. They organized a first class competitive environment and deserve much recognition. On the same note, this unique opportunity to travel to Taiwan speaks volumes towards why Pepperdine University is the best place to be a student-athlete.
Proof of Drew Hacker's Journey rendition: