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Quakes' Bergjans makes quick work on hill

Dodgers righty allows one unearned run on two hits over 6 2/3 frames
August 21, 2016

Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga starter Tommy Bergjans stayed one step ahead of San Jose all night Sunday.

"They were very aggressive and I kind of knew that from the first inning on," the right-handed Dodgers prospect said. "As a result, it changed the way I pitched a little bit. The second and third time through the order, I was able to throw breaking pitches and some off-speed pitches in the zone early to get swings and balls hit on the ground or soft contacts in the air. It was definitely the most efficient I've been all year."

Bergjans (3-13) needed just 74 pitches to go 6 2/3 innings in the Quakes' 8-1 win over the Giants at Municipal Stadium. He allowed one unearned run on two hits, striking out five without issuing a walk. In the process, he halted a 12-game winless streak.

"I felt pretty sharp," he said. "I got bailed out with some lucky balls flying into our gloves tonight, but overall, my fastball was there along with my secondary stuff pretty much throughout the game. Luckily, [San Jose] made my night pretty quick."

The 23-year-old faced one over the minimum through his first six innings, yielding only a two-out single to T.J. Bennett in the second frame. Dodgers' No. 23 prospect Johan Mieses made a diving catch in center field in the fifth to take away another hit from Bennett.

"Me and the catcher, Will Smith, definitely had conversations in-between innings," Bergjans said. "Just knowing they were going to be pretty aggressive, we just laid off the fastball on the first pitch. It was also easier for me to get weak contact on my breaking stuff. But at the same time, the mind-set didn't really change. Obviously with their big hitters, I had to be more careful so I wasn't middle-middle, but after I got down the order, I was definitely a bit more in the zone and confident that my stuff was good enough and that they weren't going to put too many hard balls in play."

After striking out Rando Moreno to begin the seventh, the 2015 eighth-round pick hit Dylan Davis with a pitch before giving up a double to Jonah Arenado, which prompted a visit from Rancho Cucamonga pitching coach Kip Wells.

"He just wanted to give me a little breather because it was the first time I was in the stretch in four or five innings," Bergjans said. "He just told me to continue to trust my stuff and be aggressive in the zone and that I don't have to get too fine with my pitches, just induce some weak contact and get out of this inning."

Bergjans got Miguel Gomez to pop out to short, but a throwing error by third baseman Brandon Trinkwon on the next play allowed Davis to score.

"I was getting bailed out by my defense the entire game," Bergjans said. "The guy had some decent wheels and it was going to be a bang-bang play regardless. Luckily our reliever, Gavin Pittore, was able to come in the game and shut down any of the momentum that they potentially could've had."

The Haverford College product exited having thrown a first-pitch strike to 16 of 24 batters while retiring six of them with it.

"Obviously, I would've love to have pitched more," he said, "but it was the manager's decision and I'm not against it at all. I think part of it was because it was my third time through the order and they were getting a little familiar. The double made things a little hairy and it was almost the most pitches I had throw in an inning. So we just wanted to bring in a fresh arm and be able to lock it down and solidify a win, which I thought was the right call."

Pittore struck out two over 1 1/3 innings and Corey Copping fanned two in the ninth to close the door.

Mieses, Matt Beaty and Noah Perio went yard for the Quakes.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng