Erik Bird is a sophomore relief pitcher for Nebraska who will contribute a
weekly journal to CollegeBaseballInsider.com 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
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
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
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
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.
(photo courtesy of Nebraska Media Relations Office)