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Joseph Gonzalez Leads Team USA

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Summer star: Auburn's Joseph Gonzalez leads Team USA

8/16/2022 3:03:00 PM

AUBURN, Ala. – Thirty-four pitchers – the stars of their college teams and conferences – tried out this summer for the 2022 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in Cary, North Carolina, knowing fewer than half of them would make the cut.

Auburn's Joseph Gonzalez earned his Team USA spot by pitching four perfect innings during the team's training camp, striking out five of the 12 batters he faced.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, the manager of Team USA, informed Gonzalez that he would be competing at an event called Honkbalweek Haarlem in the Netherlands from July 9-15 vs. Japan, Italy, Cuba, Curacao and the host team.

"I wasn't surprised. I felt confident and comfortable," Gonzalez said. "I just did my job, what I've been doing my two years here. They told me I was flying to the Netherlands. I was happy and ready to roll."

During the training camp, Auburn coach Butch Thompson visited Gonzalez in North Carolina.

"I got to see the first two innings he threw," Thompson said of his surprise visit. "Joseph made my day. I was going to show him support on behalf of Auburn and he absolutely made my day because he lit up like a Christmas tree with a big smile."

Gonzalez recorded 13 strikeouts with zero walks and a 0.00 ERA this summer for Team USA

Gonzalez didn't just make the national team, he starred for the stars and stripes, earning the victory vs. Italy and leading the team with 7.2 innings pitched while not allowing an earned run and striking out eight without a walk.

In two weeks with Team USA, including training camp games and the Netherlands tournament, Gonzalez pitched 11.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA, 13 strikeouts and zero walks.

"He did nothing but raise his stock and represent Auburn in an amazing way," Thompson said. "It's to his benefit by the experience he gained, not only during our season but being part of Team USA. It was a heck of a year for Joseph."

"It's an honor," Gonzalez said of wearing the red, white and blue. "I'm from Puerto Rico but I'm a U.S. citizen and proud of representing the USA. It was a great experience and I'm glad I went."

One month after pitching for Auburn in the College World Series, Gonzalez traveled 4,500 miles from the Plains to northwestern Europe.

"It was fun," he said. "It was completely different. The weather was good, the treatment was awesome. The only thing I didn't like much was the food. The seasoning was completely different than what I'm used to, but everything else was pretty good."

After helping the Collegiate National Team win the bronze medal with a 5-1 win vs. Japan, Gonzalez flew home to Puerto Rico, where he enjoyed eating his favorite food, mofongo, which features fried plantains with seafood.

As a sophomore in 2022, Gonzalez led the Tigers with seven wins and a 3.22 ERA, positioning himself to anchor Auburn's pitching staff in 2023.

"I'm ready," he said. "I know I can get a lot better and I know what I need to fix to get better."

Leading more by example than verbally, Gonzalez hopes to help Auburn's first-year pitchers adjust to competing in the SEC.

"I like it," he said. "I don't talk a lot but I feel like a lot of players respect me. Even though I don't talk a lot, they can follow me by my actions, how I act and pitch. I'm ready for next season."

Edited by toddc
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