Bergman turns it up

UCI senior starter is Friday Night Lights Out filling in for injured Bibona in win against UCSB.

May 15, 2010|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — UC Irvine senior Christian Bergman lowered his arm slot heading into Friday's Big West Conference series opener against visiting UC Santa Barbara.

But it was lowering the bar that Bergman was most concerned about.

Taking over for usual Friday night starter Danny Bibona, a senior All-American who has not lost a series opener against a conference opponent in 13 tries (12 wins and one no decision), Bergman made sure the Anteaters' opening act did not skip a beat.

Bergman provided 7 1/3 strong innings as the most noteworthy of four UCI pitchers who combined to blank the Gauchos, 4-0. The win marked the 14th straight time the Anteaters (31-16, 11-5 in conference) opened a conference series on a winning note. The last time UCI dropped a Big West series opener was against UCSB in May of 2008.


Bergman, relievers Kyle Necke, Andy Lines and Eric Pettis extended another streak by limiting UCSB to seven hits. Including the final 25 outs of a 2-1 nonconference win over visiting UCLA on Tuesday, the UCI staff has now worked 17 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

"I just came out thinking I want to do what Danny would come out here and do, and represent the staff well, even with him down," said Bergman, who was pushed up a day from his usual Saturday duty with Bibona nursing inflamed rib muscles.

"You want to come out here and set the tone, because it's the first game [of a series]. Danny does a good job of doing that and I just happened to do it tonight. This was my first Friday night start. It's a privilege to start on Friday for a program like this."

UCI Coach Mike Gillespie gave Bergman full credit for turning his first Friday start into one of the best outings of his career, certainly one of the most meaningful.

"With the situation with Bibona and the way things are, I really felt like this could be the most important game of the year," Gillespie said. "When we look back, depending on how we do the rest of the way, that might be the way we feel. We'll see, but no matter how you cut it, it was really important. I would hope it would give everybody a lift. It sure should."

Bergman helped provide that lift with the help of his familiar sink.

The ground-ball pitcher had a no-hitter through five innings and surrendered just two hits through seven, before three singles loaded the bases and prompted his departure with one out in the eighth.

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