In three short years,
Tim Shibuya went from being an unknown baseball walk-on out of Wyoming to
taking the mound in Cary, NC in the 2010 NCAA Division II Championship game in
Cary, NC as the ace of the UC San Diego staff. As a junior last season, the 6-foot-1 Shibuya earned first All-American
honors while posting a 13-3 record with a 2.03 ERA for a Triton team that went
54-8 and fell one win short of being crowned national champions. Coach Dan
O'Brien looks at the senior right hander's career with the kind of respect only
a coach can have. "The thing people don't realize is how challenging it is to
be an ace," says O'Brien, last year's Division II National Coach of the Year.
"He goes out there cold in the first game of every series, facing the other
team's top pitcher, and has to figure out the opposing hitters on the fly-he
does an incredible job of consistently leading our team every weekend." Last
Friday, in the second-ranked Tritons' season opener, Shibuya stymied Western
Oregon, 5-1, to earn his first win of the 2011 season and the 29th of his UCSD
career. The pharmacological chemistry major from Jackson, WY spent time
recently reflecting on his career and looking ahead to his final campaign in La
Q-Last year you started in the NCAA Division II Championship Game. Does that heartbreaking loss still
stick with you and if so how has it motivated you for this season?
SHIBUYA-It has definitely stuck with me, but in a good way. Every
day I am reminded of the things that the team and I need to get better at so we
don't have to watch somebody else dog pile on our field in Cary, NC.
Q-Friday you pitched in the first regular season home game under the
new lights at Triton Ballpark. How excited were you to be the starter and did
the experience meet your expectations?
SHIBUYA-It was nice to get the ball the first game of the season,
but the more important part was that we were able to set the tone for the season
with a good team win over a regional opponent. As far as the night games go, it
is awesome being able to play under the lights. Baseball was meant to be played
at night and it is a great opportunity for baseball program to be able to do
Q-As a senior and one of the aces of the pitching staff what type of
leadership role do you try to play? What kind of load do you expect the senior
starting trio of yourself, Guido Knudson and Danny Simmons to carry this year?
SHIBUYA-As far as leadership goes I try and just lead by example. I
come out each day to work harder than the guys next to me and expect them to
have the same mentality. With Guido, Danny, and me starting we have the
mentality of going deep into games and saving our bullpen for when it is really
needed. Our job is to put our team in a position to win. Plus, those two are proven
winners who know how to get the job done.
Q-What originally drew you to UCSD? How did baseball play into the
SHIBUYA-My Dad is a ski instructor back home and some of his
clients live in the San Diego area so when I was applying to schools they told
me to put UCSD on my list. I applied and got in and decided to give it a shot. Baseball
didn't really play into my decision. I planned on going to UCSD just because of
the school and no matter where I went I was going to try out for the baseball
or golf teams depending on which worked out better.
Q-Your freshman year you pitched out of the bullpen. How did you feel
about that role and what was the transition like moving from a reliever to a
SHIBUYA-Freshman year in the pen was great. I was able to spend a
bunch of time with Keith Noe who taught me a ton about pitching and life in
general. It was fun to come into a game in a jam and get a double play and let
our offense hit. Moving to the rotation was not a big deal. I just looked at it
as an extended bullpen outing. When it comes down to it, it is about making one
pitch at a time.
Q-Your ERA has gone down every year since you joined the program in
2008 what have you learned the most about becoming a pitcher?
SHIBUYA-Our pitching coach Ryan Leake has taught me so much about
attacking a hitter's weaknesses and what to look for in their approaches. The
most important mentality is telling myself to win each pitch.
Q-What pitches do you throw?
Which do you feel is your most effective and which do you wish was
SHIBUYA-I throw a two-seam fastball, cutter, change up, slider, and
curveball. My fastball is my most effective pitch since I throw it the most. I
like to force early, weak contact with my fastball and let my other pitches build
off of that.
Q-Tell us a little about Coach Dan O'Brien. What has he meant to the
overall success you have had since you joined UCSD?
SHIBUYA-Coach O'Brien is the most dedicated and passionate coach in
the nation, hands down. His mental approach to the game has been invaluable in
my development as a player. He is the reason that the teams the past few years
have had success because he prepares us for each game and is never satisfied.
Q-In high school you played baseball and golf. What was the primary reason for you
choosing to play baseball over golf collegiately?
SHIBUYA-Honestly, tryouts for the baseball team were before golf.
If I got cut from the baseball tryout I was going to try and play golf.
Q-What was it like growing up in Jackson Wyoming? What is the most interesting story you
have about your hometown?
SHIBUYA-Jackson is the greatest place to live. I loved growing up
in the small town and being able to play outside all day. Fishing, biking,
golfing, hunting, hiking, playing baseball, I could do it all. Best story was
two summers ago I was fishing with some friends and we were drifting down the
river when I saw a calf (a small cow) pinned up against the bank of the river.
So I jumped into the river and swam down to the calf. The water was waist high
by the bank so I was able to lift the calf out of the river and give him back
to his friends.
Q-Your aspiration is to become a teacher. What grade and subject would you like to teach and why?
SHIBUYA-I would love to teach high school science and math. I like
the smaller class sizes and interaction with students.
Q-Do you hope to continue playing baseball after college?
SHIBUYA-Absolutely. It has been a dream of mine since I was a
Q-What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
SHIBUYA- I have absolutely zero idea. It is all up in the air. My
plan changes everyday. Too many things to do with not enough time.
Q-How would the ultimate conclusion to your collegiate career play
Ultimate conclusion would
be to be in the championship game in Cary, NC at night. Facing a hitter with two
outs and two strikes in the ninth inning, I would throw a fastball in, freeze
him and watch in slow motion as Kellen (Lee) comes out and tackles me and all
of my other teammates jump on top to build the dog pile that we have dreamed about
for three years now.
Previous Q & A Articles
Carl Eberts (Men's Volleyball) January 31, 2011
Neda Nguyen (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 24, 2011
Amy Bianchini (Fencing) January 14, 2011
Lauren Freidenberg (Women's Basketball) January 3, 2011
Christian Hatch (Men's Basketball) December 24, 2010
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2010
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009