After a rocky start to the season, Christian Bergman has located his veteran savvy, with a current streak of 24.1 straight scoreless innings. Ever since taking over the No. 1 start for an injured Daniel Bibona, Bergman dealt 7.1 scoreless against UC Santa Barbara, eight against UC Riverside, and a complete-game shutout versus Long Beach State. UC Irvine won all three conference games, with Bergman providing the critical boost to the Anteater’s playoff chances.
After having his era up over 6 at the mid-point of the season, Bergman has lowered it to a much more respectable 3.82 with a 8-3 record. Amongst all the starting pitchers in UCI, Bergman has been most effective in attacking the strike zone, giving up a mere 15 walks in 96.2 innings pitched.
An ace out of St. Francis High School, Bergman played a crucial role for the 2006 CIF Div. II runner-up in his senior year and made it to the All-CIF First team along with winning the Mission League Most Valuable Player that same year. His 10-2 record and 1.54 ERA earned him the chance to play on the Anteaters after he graduated.
Bergman has a fastball, changeup, slider, and a sinker in his repertoire. Berg’s sinker has helped him to become an effective groundball pitcher, relying on keeping the ball low to force grounders. Furthermore, Bergman also added a curveball in his artillery this season, based off AJ Burnett’s grip, as his strikeout pitch.
“I like throwing the sinker,” Bergman said regarding his favorite pitch. “Because even if the location is not quite where you want it, if you have the movement and the height that you want then a lot of guys will hit it straight to the ground—unlike a curveball—if it hangs, most guys will hit it pretty far.”
Bergman’s career in baseball will not end in college, as he holds onto his hopes of playing pro-ball.
“Hopefully there’s a future in pro-ball, that’s my plan and that’s been my goal ever since I started playing,” Bergman said. “One thing scouts have always wanted me to do is throw more strikeouts, and I’ve been able to do that this year.”
Although Bergman is nothing but intense and competitive on the mound, off the field he is a different person. Laid back, chill and easy-going, Bergman takes a guru-like meditative approach to prepare himself mentally and shake off any anxiety within him before his games.
“Before I leave my house, I sit down for about 10 minutes and put some kind of mind music on the background. So I sit there, close my eyes, and visualize while holding the ball in my hands. I live every pitch and I just kind of go through the first inning in my head. Then I go out and I feel like the job’s already done.”
Outside of baseball, Bergman finds time to have fun at home and outdoors. Bergman loves to watch House and read in his free time, but he also has an unusual knack for a certain type of computer game.
“I have a flight simulator, I do that sometimes,” Bergman said with a grin. “The other guys make fun of me for that, but I really don’t care.”
Bergman also enjoys fishing and had the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors more freely when he played summer baseball in Alaska for the past four years.
“The area is beautiful … a lot of cool wildlife,” Bergman said. “I liked going out there because I can get away from everything. I go up there and really just think about baseball, not worry about anything else.”
Bergman would not have been where he is right now without the help of his pitching coach Daniel Ricabal, pitching coach for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, who was his mentor since he was eight years old.
“I still pitch the way he taught me. He’s always been there when I’ve been struggling. All the times I’ve had bad outings during this year, I talk to him about what I’m struggling with.”
Bergman’s journey throughout his college career has certainly been a blessing and wonderful privilege. Bergman had the chance to pitch in the 2007 College World Series in Omaha in his freshman year, the Super Regionals in LSU in his sophomore year, and was a catalyst for last year’s team which was number one in the nation for six weeks.
“It took me a while to adjust to it in my freshman year and I had a lot of success up until this year when I had to deal with some tough outings,” Bergman said about his college career. “I think that’s when you learn who you are as a player and person. It’s not about how many times you fall down but how many times you get back up. That’s what baseball is all about—it’s about failures and if you can overcome those failures.”