Dave Bergin had a lot in common Monday night with the major leaguers swinging away in Minneapolis.
Not only were they hitting multiple home runs, but it wasn’t the first time for any of the sluggers.
Bergin, in his second game playing for the Modesto Nuts, cleared the fence in left in his first two at-bats against Bakersfield and drove in four runs in Modesto’s 5-3 victory over the Blaze.
Don’t look now, but the Nuts are on a roll, having won back-to-back games for the first time since May 23-24. And in taking three of four from Bakersfield – the first-half champion in the California League North Division – they won a series for only the fifth time this season.
Yes, small victories for a team still on pace to post the worst record in Modesto minor-league history, but progress nonetheless.
And count Bergin as part of that improvement, since the Nuts are 2-0 with him in uniform. The 24-year-old first baseman, who has been the designated hitter in his first two Modesto games, has shown this kind of power surge before.
On April 22, 2011, while playing at Tennessee Wesleyan, Bergin tied an NAIA record by blasting five home runs in one game. Before you scoff at the launching power of aluminum bats, consider that 2011 was the first season college baseball adopted the bat-deadening BBCOR specs.
“That was crazy and a day I’ll never forget,” Bergin said. “I still don’t know why they kept pitching to me that day, but I was getting 3-0 fastballs with the green light. They kept pitching to me and I kept swinging. It was happening for me that day.”
Bergin was drafted by St. Louis in 2011, released in 2012 and led the independent United League with 19 homers and 66 RBIs last summer.
The Rockies signed him last August, and after recovering from a spring training oblique strain, he played with short-season Tri-City and Double-A Tulsa before being shipped to Modesto last weekend.
Bergin gave the Nuts a 1-0 lead with his towering solo shot to left field in the first inning, and after the Blaze scored against Modesto starter Matt Flemer in the third, Bergin struck again.
With two outs, David Kandilas singled and Mike Tauchman walked on four pitches. Bergin worked a 3-1 count against Bakersfield’s Ismael Guillon before launching a line-drive homer to the right of the scoreboard for a 4-1 lead.
“Those two swings felt good,” Bergin said. “I saw those two pitches well and hit them. Before I got here, I heard about how big this ballpark was, but I think both of mine got up in the wind.”
For the record, there was no wind at Thurman Field.
Modesto padded the margin on Tauchman’s RBI single in the fifth before the Blaze made things interesting in the seventh, scoring twice on three singles and an error to chase Flemer.
Bruce Kern entered to get the Nuts out of that jam and got his team to the ninth, where Rayan Gonzalez came in to record his eighth save.
All set up by Bergin’s power show.
“We knew he had some pop because we’ve seen that in batting practice,” Nuts manager Don Sneddon said. “We saw a little bit of him in spring training before he got hurt. His maturity, plate discipline and leadership are going to be a welcome addition.”