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Reeves represents U.S. in tourney

July 30, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Brawley native Michael Reeves has been on numerous baseball teams.

Whether it was playing Little League, Babe Ruth or dawning the blue and gold of Brawley Union High School or most recently playing for Paine College in Augusta, Ga., Reeves, 21, has represented his teams well.

But from July 10-23 Reeves was given the ultimate honor of representing his country as a member of a United States national baseball team that competed in the German Baseball Open in Rendsburg, Germany.

"That was just an amazing opportunity to get to be a part of the national team and compete over there," said the 5-foot-11- inch Reeves, a 1997 graduate of Brawley Union High. "It was like a great dream to play for my country."


For Reeves it was one thing to be chosen to compete on the team, but it was another when he was given the starting second base job.

"I was just happy to be a part of the team and I really didn't expect to start," said Reeves. "We had only practiced one day together as a team before the tournament started. Playing along with these other really good players from around the country, I didn't think I'd get much playing time."

U.S. coach Gary Smith ultimately made the decision to start Reeves at second. Smith, who coaches a U.S. international team, picked Reeves as one of 20 players to represent the U.S.

Prior to the 2001 season the players, picked based on previous year's statistics, received letters inviting them to play on the national team in the German tournament.

Knowing what his immediate future held, Reeves continued to play at Paine with no added pressure but still had thoughts of playing on the national team in the back of his mind.

"At first just getting that letter and finding out that I was picked to play on the team, that was a huge shock," said Reeves. "Not many players get that opportunity, so that really was a shock."

If he had any questions about why he had been selected, he answered them with his play in the tournament.

The team finished with the best tournament record at 5-2, playing against some of the world's top talents, including the Australian and French Olympic teams. Even with the best record, the U.S. squad ended up taking third place.

Playing second base, Reeves was one of the only players in the tournament not to commit an error and finished with a tournament-high .350 batting average.

"For me personally, I didn't expect to do that well. That was the first time that I've played with a wooden bat and it was the first time that I've played in a tournament like that where I faced top level pitching," said Reeves.

While he enjoyed individual success, Reeves said he and his teammates were slightly disappointed with their finish.

"Going into it, I thought our team would win it. I really did expect us to win the whole tournament," Reeves said. "So it was kind of a disappointment that we only took third. But I think everyone who watched and played in the tournament knew that we were the best team out there. We just had one bad game and that's what did it."

Reeves' said wherever he and his teammates went they were treated like first-class citizens and "superstars," which he said made the experience even more enjoyable.

Next on Reeves' baseball agenda will be his senior season at Paine and the invitation to compete in the German tournament again next year.

"Coach (Smith) really liked our group and invited us all back to play again next year," said Reeves. "I have my final year at Paine and unless I get an offer to do something else, I do plan on going out there again.

"Looking back at the whole thing I couldn't be happier with it. I got to play with and against some really good competition and our team beat like four Olympic teams. Not a lot of people can say they had that opportunity," said Reeves. "Coming from a small place like the Imperial Valley, I never expected to get where I'm at today."

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