For Vogel, the idea of stepping into a hostile environment and pitching in front of a crowd that rooted for the opposing team did not bother him. In his first game against Panama, Vogel threw three shutout innings, while striking out nine, which ranks third all-time in Team U.S.A. history. Through two games, Vogel had an ERA of 1.69, while holding opponents to just under a .250 average. In addition to performing on the mound, Vogel was instrumental at the plate. Hitting a two run homerun to put the U.S.A. up 3-0, and driving in another run at his next at bat, helped his team cruise to a 6-0 victory.
“I was with him the whole trip,” said Peter, Matt’s father, who made the trip to Ecuador. “Matt has come thus far and worked hard. He’s very driven.”
After going undefeated in tournament play, the U.S.A. made it to the gold medal game against rival Puerto Rico. Though Vogel was not in the lineup for the game, he felt close to the action as his team prevailed 4-3 to capture the gold medal for the U.S.A.
Part of Matt’s fearlessness against opponents comes from motivation of his older brother, who is currently in a semi-conscious state, after an accident in 2008. Though they were only a few years apart, Vogel remembers his parents telling him his brother was active in all sports and dominated in them too.