Erik Bird is a sophomore relief pitcher for Nebraska who will contribute a weekly journal to in 2007. Bird, a native of Omaha, Neb., went 0-2 with a 0.82 ERA as a freshman and becomes closer for the Cornhuskers this year. Opponents hit only .218 and only 2 of 23 inherited runners scored off of him in 2006. Bird's brother Brandon pitched for Creighton and helped the Bluejays to the NCAA tourney in 2005.




Feb. 23, 2007

Greetings from the Heartland


On Tuesday, the coaches want to keep it real light, so they put a practice plan all together. But then, right when we got there, they pretty much threw the practice plan away, and we just played Wiffle ball for 30 minutes.


That was pretty fun. They broke the teams up. They split the whole team into four groups, and then we had semifinals and a final game. It just kind of kept it loose.


Wednesday, we didn't do too much. We just hit and threw and that kind of stuff. Thursday was a travel day. Right when we got to Dallas, we went straight to UT-Arlington's field and practiced outside for the first time, even though it was still like 35 degrees or something. It was just good to be outside. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but the guys got to take BP and finally got to see where their balls were going after they hit them, so that was pretty exciting and everything to see.


Our first game was pretty exciting to finally see what everybody could do and what the lineup was. Nobody knew what the lineup was going to be or how they were going to handle the pitching and stuff so that was exciting.


We got off to kind of a slow start, but won the game. Being the first time outside, I think New Mexico had about six games outside before that, so that was pretty exciting getting out there and just seeing what everybody could do.


On Friday night, we lost. Johnny Dorn pitched really well for five innings, but we couldn't really score. It was probably another 35-degree game, so it wasn't very much fun.. We lost that game, but we bounced back Saturday with UT-Arlington.


We got out to a faster start that game. It was kinda like we were getting used to being outside and everything now and the game mode. Everybody was comfortable with what their roles were and what they were going to do. We came out and Charlie Shear was pitching real good, and I think he went six innings and then handed it over to the bullpen and pretty much closed it out; that was my second save.


I was pretty excited to get the first save of the first New Mexico game and then getting the second one was even bigger because of the situation I was in. I had to pitch one and two-thirds in a one-run game. But it was fun getting the second save and getting a win. I don't know how many Nebraska fans were there, but we definitely outnumbered the UTA fans by quite a bit, and they got pretty loud.


We had to finish up a road series with Illinois State, and we jumped out to a 5-1 lead, and you know, it just seemed like the team finally started to click. We were getting used to be outside and all that kind of stuff.


Matt Foust, my roommate, actually had his first start of the season, and it was his longest outing of his career. There have been doubts about his stuff in previous years here, but now, he just works so hard that it's pretty easy for him to come out and shut down Illinois State. It was pretty fun to see.


Being his roommate and everything, it was real nice to see him do what he did. And Andy Gerch went 5 for 5. I mean, not many people know the story about Andy Gerch, but he's had some rough times here. And seeing a guy like that go 5 for 5 is a pretty special thing. Everybody on the team pretty much has a soft spot in their hearts for Andy Gerch, and to see him succeed like that is something really big.


We had to shower real fast and get on the plane back to Omaha so we could drive back to Lincoln. We got back to Lincoln about 10:30 at night so it wasn't that bad, but everybody was pretty worn out.

Erik Bird

(photo courtesy of Nebraska Media Relations Office)