Former Pleasanton resident Brad Bergeson made his first trip to the Major League Baseball mound Tuesday night, only allowing one earned run in 5-2/3 innings, elevating the Baltimore Orioles to a 10-3 win over the Chicago White Sox and cutting their five-game losing streak.
It was a shining moment for the 2004 Foothill High School graduate.
Speaking to MLB.com, Bergeson said after the game, "I think nervous would be an understatement," he said of his emotions. "My heart was pounding about 1,000 beats a second. I felt like I tried to keep my composure as much as possible, but it was tough tonight."
Wearing No. 64, the 6'2" right-hander may be pitching in the rotation for a while according to the MLB, which said he's replacing pitcher Alfredo Simon, who is expected to be out with an elbow injury for at least a month.
Bergesen, 23, is listed as being 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk. The rookie was drafted in 2004 in the fourth round by the Orioles. He signed with the University of San Diego before that.
Among those who watched the game was Kim Eppard, who coached Bergesen in pitching at Foothill and at The Pitching Center in Pleasanton.
"He's a better person than he is a player, and he's a tremendous player," Eppard said. "On one level, he's very humble, very mannerly, gets along with everybody. On a second level, he's a very fierce competitor."
Bergeson has been an instructor with The Pitching Center for two years.
"With his talents, he outworked everyone in this area in high school," said Eppard, adding that Bergeson went 12-0 his senior year and hit in the .400 range as a lefty batter.
While Bergeson was dominating at the high school level, he he'll have more competition in the major-leagues, Eppard said, but he does have tricks up his sleeve.
"He throws in the 80s and low 90s and really what makes it work for him is he's got good movement on his fastball," he said. "He's considered a sinkerball pitcher. He's got a tremendous changeup and he's got a unique grip that he got from my fellow coach Jason Sekany, who also played pro ball."
Eppard said Bergeson married his wife Shea last October and the couple lives in Maryland.
"Now he's back East, so we're going to miss seeing him all the time, but it's a great story," Eppard said. "We've all got our fingers crossed that he's going to have himself a nice, long career in the major-leagues because it just couldn't happen to a nicer guy."
Angelo Scavone, who is head coach of Foothill's varsity baseball team, said he remembers Bergeson from his high school days fondly.
"It's pretty exciting," Scavone said. "I think it's the first big leaguer in the history of Pleasanton."
Scavone said he still talks to Bergeson, most recently seeing him a couple of times this past winter.
"He is the only player that I have coached that thanked the coaching staff after every practice before he left the field," Scavone said. "His dad built our snack bar for us on our varsity baseball field."
The players on this year's varsity Foothill team are excited that an alumnus has reached the majors, Scavone said, adding that he's gotten a lot of emails from people.
Bergeson was the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2008, along with the MVP of the Double A All Star Game. His mother, Sue, who now lives in Alabama, was a past president of the Pleasanton American Little League in 1998. His father Art now lives in Fairfield. For photos and stats on Bergeson, click here