Bergman finishes strong

The following are updates on local baseball players at the minor league level.

Christian Bergman (St. Francis High, 2006) starting pitcher, Tri-City Dust Devils: Bergman added to his impressive season on Sept. 5 with a playoff victory for the Tri-City Dust Devils, the class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

The former All-Area Baseball Player of the Year allowed two hits and one walk, striking out eight batters in seven innings pitched in the Northwest League's Divisional Series against the Boise Hawks. Bergman threw 88 pitches, 62 of which were strikes.

"I definitely wanted to come out and command the strike zone," Bergman told the Tri-City Herald.

Bergman carried a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings and picked up the win, his first professional playoff win, in a 6-0 Dust Devils victory over the Hawks.

"We were confident with Bergman on the mound," Dust Devils first baseman Tyler Massey told the Tri-City Herald. "Maybe we've been spoiled by how successful [Bergman] has been all year. This puts us in great position with the next two at home."

The Dust Devils would go on to defeat Boise again Sept. 6, 9-1, sweeping the three-game series, and advancing to the Northwest League's Championship series against the Vancouver Canadians.

Bergman recorded his second professional playoff win against the Canadians on Saturday. He gave up eight hits, including a homer, two runs and struck out four batters in six innings. The Dust Devils' bullpen held Vancouver to just one run over the next three innings, as Tri-City got the 5-3 win.

Tri-City's season came to a close on Sunday after dropping the deciding game of the best-of-three series, 9-2. Vancouver also won the series opener 6-3 on Friday.

Joe De Pinto (St. Francis High, 2007) second baseman, Great Falls Voyagers: The former Golden Knight made an impact with his new team, the Great Falls Voyagers — a rookie league squad with the Chicago White Sox — as he was voted the team's most valuable player this year.

De Pinto has proved his worth to the Voyagers late in the regular season and in the postseason. The Voyagers faced the Missoula Osprey in the last game of the regular season on Sept. 8 with a playoff spot on the line. De Pinto went one for two with a double, scored two runs and worked three walks in the game — an 11-8 Voyagers' win. He finished the regular season with a .285 batting average (75 for 263), 18 doubles, five home runs, 46 RBI and seven steals. He also maintained a .388 on-base and .433 slugging percentage.

The win set up a rematch between the two teams in the Pioneer League's North Division best-of-three playoff series after the Osprey won the first half of the Pioneer League North Division's season with a 25-13 record (41-35) and Great Falls took the second half with a 25-13 record (42-34 overall) — one game better than the second-place Billings Mustangs.

De Pinto went 0 for two with a walk in the first game of playoffs (an 8-3 Great Falls win), one for three in the second game (an 11-1 Missoula win) and 0 for two with the two walks in the series' deciding game (a 12-2 Great Falls win).

The Voyagers advanced to the Pioneer League Championship series against the Ogden Raptors, which began Tuesday and De Pinto continued his solid production, going two for four with two singles, a sacrifice bunt and RBI in the game. Great Falls went on to win the game, 9-7.

The second game of the best-of-three series between Great Falls and Ogden is schedule for tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Kelson Brown (La Cañada High, 2006) Bradenton Marauders infielder: Brown's season won't be remembered as his best, but he finished off the regular season pretty strong.

The former Spartan finished the regular season hitting .262 with 27 RBI and 10 doubles. He went out on a bit of a high note, going four for 10 in the final three games of the regular season, notching a RBI in each of the games.

Brown's season wasn't over, as his team, the Bradenton Marauders — the class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates — qualified for the playoffs after taking first place in the second half of the Florida State League's South Division with a 44-23 record (74-63 overall).

The Marauders fell to the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State South League's Divisional Series after dropping the first and third game in the best-of-three series. Brown went 0 for three in both of the postseason losses, but produced in the team's 10-0 win over the Mets on Sept. 7. He went one for three, drove in two runs on a single and sacrifice fly and scoring twice in the game.

Bradenton's and Brown's sophomore season ended when the Marauders lost to St. Lucie 4-3 in the third game of the series on Sept. 8.

Fernando Valenzuela Jr. (St. Francis High, 2000) Leones de Yucatan designated hitter: The 2011 season will go down as the best one Valenzuela has experienced in his five years in the Mexican League.

Valenzuela was named a Mexican League All-Star for the first time this year. He hit .359 (125 for 348), which was the sixth-best mark in the league and his personal best by six points in his seven minor league seasons.

The former Glendale Community College Vaquero and Golden Knight also had 61 runs batted in, eight homers, 24 doubles and maintained a .503 slugging and .413 on-base percentage. Valenzuela closed out the last five games of the season with at least one RBI and a six-game hitting streak.

The Leones de Yucatan didn't fare as well as Valenzuela. The Leones finished last in the Mexican League with a 43-62 record, 19 games out of first place in the Mexican League's South Division.

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