01/04/2020 - 05/04/2020

@wbsc    

Hosted by:   TPE

2020 Baseball Final Qualifier - Official Payoff

Chris Oxspring: Olympic memories

19/12/2019

Australia was confirmed earlier this month as the representative from the Oceania Region in the Final Qualifier for the Olympic Baseball competition, so we took the opportunity to talk to Australia's Premier12 bullpen coach Chris Oxspring about what it means to play in the Olympics, whilst remembering one of the historic Olympic moments that his country enjoyed in baseball.

During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Oxspring led Australia to an unexpected win against Japan, everybody's pick for a gold medal.

"I remember that day very well," said Oxspring, who was also on deck when Australia pulled off a huge upset beating USA for the first time in 10 games during the Premier12 Super Round last month. "The Olympics are something that is totally different from any other competition.

"I think that day I did everything the right way. Also, I would to add that everything went my way. Our defense made great plays and Jeff Williams closed it for me."

Williams at the time was playing in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers, while Oxspring was pitching in the US at the Triple-A level for the San Diego Padres.

"I was playing well and I was in mid-season form at the moment," recalled Oxspring. "I felt very well."

Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out 13 Australian batters on that day of August 2004. He gave up an RBI-single to Brendan Kingman in the bottom of the sixth. It was all the run support that Australia's pitching needed that day. Possibly, Matsuzaka made the mistake of showing too much of his pitching arsenal early in the game.

"I wouldn't name it a mistake. It was simply the way he was," commented Oxspring. "I saw him pitch many times after that day and it was simply his style."

Oxspring's performance did not go unnoticed in Japan. The right-hander pitched in 16 games for the NPB Hanshin Tigers in 2006. His career took him also to Korea. He played for three different KBO teams: the LG Twins, the Lotte Giants and the KT Wiz. He retired after the 2016 season.

"International baseball is much different these days," added Oxspring. "You can see it from the National Team rosters. There's much more professional experience, the level is more competitive."

With an Olympic ticket on the line for the best Asia/Oceania team at last month's WBSC Premier12, Australia finished sixth behind second-placed Korea, who earned a spot in the 2020 Olympics, and fifth placed Chinese Taipei.

Now, the world No. 7 has another chance to qualify to Tokyo 2020, at the Final Qualifier to be played from 1 to 5 April in Taichung and Dou Liou, Taiwan where six teams will play for the sixth and final spot at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"We definitely want to be back," added Oxspring. "Baseball is not yet one of the lead sports in our country, but Baseball Australia has a very good programme. We keep developing good players and earned some deserved respect on the world stage. As I said, playing in the Olympics is like nothing else. That's what we are aiming to."