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Bergman gets MLB chance and delivers

BaseballCollege SportsWalt WeissJason HeywardB.J. UptonColorado RockiesMajor League Baseball

It certainly didn’t take long for St. Francis High alumnus Christian Bergman to achieve his ultimate career goal.

Four years after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies, the starting pitcher made his Major League debut Monday night with Colorado against the visiting Atlanta Braves at Coors Field.

Though he took the loss, Bergman pitched well, as the right-hander struck out four and allowed two earned runs on five hits over six innings in a 3-1 defeat.

“I was happy with the outing,” Bergman, 26, told the Denver Post. “It was a thrill, for sure. It's something I've wanted to do since I was 4 years old. So, it was a thrill. I just wish we had won tonight.”

Bergman, a former All-Mission League selection, threw his first pitch for a ball to Jason Heyward. He then struck out B.J. Upton and Justin Upton in the first inning after Heyward reached base on an error.

Bergman was impressive handling the bat, as well. In his first plate appearance, Bergman singled to center off Atlanta starting pitcher Gavin Floyd to begin the third. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Blackmon, but was stranded there. Bergman grounded out to second in his only other at-bat in the fifth in front of a crowd of 28,817.

The former All-Area Baseball Player of the Year was called up by Colorado (29-34) on Saturday from the triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox after the Rockies lost starting pitcher Jordan Lyles to a broken hand against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.

Bergman, who was drafted by Colorado in the 24th round (470th overall) of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft, encountered a tough stretch in the fourth. With runners on first and third, Evan Gattis gave the Braves a 1-0 lead on a grounder to third. Chris Johnson then greeted Bergman with a run-scoring single to center to extend the advantage to 2-0.

Atlanta loaded the bases in the sixth before Bergman got Andrelton Simmons on a fly out to center. Colorado Manager Walt Weiss went to the bullpen in the seventh, replacing Bergman with Rex Brothers. Bergman made 89 pitches, 59 for strikes.

“I felt like Bergman was outstanding,” Weiss told the Denver Post. “He certainly pitched good enough to win.”

St. Francis Coach Aaron Milam said he was impressed with Bergman’s performance.

“I watched the game on my phone and I thought he did a great job,” Milam said. “He was poised on the mound and I like the way he carried himself.

“He struck out each Upton and struck out Heyward. It was cool to see him get a hit, too. There were a lot of balls hit a long ways, but that’s life playing at Coors. It was great to see him in the dugout after he came out of the game and Walt Weiss went over to him and shook his hand.”

At Colorado Springs, Bergman was 4-4 with a 3.84 earned-run average in 12 starts this season. Bergman last pitched June 3, notching a victory and picking up his sixth quality start in his last seven.

Bergman, who pitched in the NCAA College World Series for UC Irvine in 2007 after helping St. Francis reach the CIF Southern Section Division III championship contest in 2006, has had an amazing ascension during the first part of his career. He was named the California League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and was selected to participate in the Texas League All-Star Game in 2013 before being promoted to Colorado Springs this season.

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Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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