"I'm not used to waiting that long," Rea said after the U.S. topped the World, 10-1, at Great American Ball Park.
"But the game actually went by pretty fast. It was fun, a good experience."
Rea, rated the No. 15 prospect in the Padres' system by MLB.com, got Elias Diaz to ground out to second base for the second out of the ninth inning, and got Rafael Devers looking at a called third strike on a big curveball to end the game.
What made this day more special was that Rea, 25, got to pitch in front of friends and family, who caravanned some seven hours on I-74 from Cascade, Iowa, to get to Cincinnati for the game.
Consider Sunday's outing the icing on the cake of what's been a sweet season for Rea, who has impressed scouts and members of the Padres' front office this season.
Rea was recently promoted from Double-A San Antonio to Triple-A El Paso. He's 3-2 with a 1.68 ERA between both stops, though his first two starts in Triple-A haven't gone as well as he would have hoped (six runs in 5 1/3 innings).
"The last two starts, I got outside my game a little, giving hitters a little too much credit. There are good hitters in that league. But at the same time, if you execute your pitches, whether it's Little League or the big leagues, you're going to get outs.
"I'm going to try and get back to doing that."
Rea, who is enjoying a breakout season, has cleaned up a few things in terms of his mechanics since the end of 2014. He's shown the ability to throw a four-seam fastball, cut-fastball, curveball and a split-change.
"I think he's been very consistent all year," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "For the most part, it was five innings, one or fewer earned runs allowed. He was throwing a lot of strikes. I think it's good that he's getting some recognition, and I think it's good for him to go compete against some of the better Minor League prospects in the game."
Another key for Rea, he said Sunday, is improved self-confidence. He's always gotten support from friends, family, teammates and coaches. But this season, he started truly believing in himself and what he was capable of.
"I think the biggest thing is believing in myself," Rea said. "In the past, I've never really truly believed in myself. I guess I never really realized how good I could actually be. But now I'm starting to believe that."