Sept. 11, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. - Tommy Mendonca can't walk down the street without a fan stopping him and congratulating him. After winning the National Championship with the Bulldogs, winning the College World Series MVP title and a gold medal with the USA National team it is safe to say that Mendonca is a local celebrity.
The Turlock, Calif. native began playing baseball at the age of six. But in the last four months, Mendonca has achieved more than most guys his age.
Mendonca can also add meeting the President, of the United States, something he and his teammates will do in November.
"It is kind of surreal, everything that has happened in the last four months," said Mendonca. "I got to experience and travel a lot this season and see places that I had never been before."
Not 24 hours after returning to Fresno from Omaha, Mendonca ventured to North Carolina. The third baseman was invited to join the National USA team. The National team competed in the International University Sports Federation tournament. The USA National team won the FISU World Championship and earned a gold medal.
Mendonca played ball in several countries across Europe while with the National team. He played games in the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, and Czech Republic. The competition came from near and far too. Mendonca played against teams from Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Germany, Korea, Canada, Czech Republic, and Lithuania.
"It was cool to see how baseball is played outside the U.S.," said Mendonca. "Each team and country had their own style of play. Some have different wind ups and ways of hitting the ball. "
The team included players from different Universities all over the country. One of Mendonca's new teammates was in Omaha playing for Louisiana State Univeristy.
"None of the guys I played against in Omaha were on the team," said Mendonca. "Micah Gibb plays for LSU and he was on the team. It was fun to talk about our experiences at the College World Series and see where they differed."
The USA National team was favored to win the tournament and the team was all business while accomplishing the gold medal victory.
"Fresno State baseball is laid back and we have fun doing what we love," said Mendonca. "The National team was a lot more serious than I was used to."
Playing baseball and winning gold was a priority for the team. The team achieved this goal after beating Japan 1-0 in 12 innings.
Mendonca experienced more than just international baseball. He was able to see the sights and get a new understanding for other cultures. He visited Hitler's Castle in Prague and churches in Germany and the Netherlands.
"It was fun to see the sights and be able to travel to new countries," said Mendonca. "I got the chance to make new friends and found a lot of great hunting spots."
"Join the State, Fresno State!" - The Bulldogs continue non-conference play at Bulldog Stadium on Thursday, September 11 as they host Florida International at 7:00 p.m. for Proud to be an American Night. All military and local government agency workers will receive two free tickets with presentation of official ID at the box office. September is also Youth Soccer Month. All youth soccer players 8th grade and under who wear their jerseys get in for free and their rest of the family is admitted for $2 per person. To purchase tickets, click on the tickets icon at the top of this page, call the Bulldog Ticket Office at (559) 278-DOGS, or stop by the Bulldog Ticket Office.
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