BASEBALL: Bergum setting the pace with both bat and glove

Ben Bergum, freshman third basemen for the Iowa State Cyclones Club Baseball. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

Shing Kai Chan

Ben Bergum, freshman third basemen for the Iowa State Cyclones Club Baseball. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

David Merrill

Freshman third basemen Ben Bergum wasn’t on the team last year, but it seems like every time you turn your head you see him on base.

Bergum has gotten on base more than any other ISU player this season, as his team-leading .572 on-base percentage indicates.

Getting on base is something this Wisconsin native attributes to finding the right pitch to hit.

“If it’s not there, don’t hit it; if you swing and the ball is outside, you pop up or you miss and have a chance of striking out,” Bergum said.

“Just take the walk and let somebody else hit.”

Bergum also mentioned that not trying to place the ball also helps his approach at the plate.

Bergum has shown he is no slouch on the base paths once he gets on, as he has stolen at least one base in each of the series so far this season.

Senior player-coach Andrew Schmid credits Bergum for his patience.

“He takes his time up there; he doesn’t jump at the first pitch like a lot of guys do,” Schmid said.

“He gets a lot of walks because he takes his time at the plate.”

What impressed Schmid at the tryout even more than Bergum’s ability to get on base was his defense at third.

“That was the weakest position on the field last year, Schmid said.

“We had four or five guys try to play that position last year and no one could hold it down without making errors, but then he came along and he’s solid there and he can make the plays that we need and he’s a pretty decent hitter too.”

Fielding the third base position at Cap Timm Field is especially tough this year because the field developing a lip that causes ground balls hit to that side to take a funny hop, leaving the players not knowing which way it will bounce once it hits the spot.

“We’ve been trying real hard to make our field better this year, adding new dirt, edging the field and stuff, but we got the ‘Cy-hop’ going on,” Schmid said. “Every game we will have a couple balls that take just the nastiest hops.”

The lip has given Bergum plenty to think about while playing in the field.

“That lip is horrible, I played through some in high school but that lip is just nasty; it needs to be fixed, but we can’t fix it this year,” Bergum said.

From practice, Bergum has a general idea of where the ball is going to go .

But if it’s hit hard at him, he said, the key is to stay on your toes and try to move with it and also try to take advantage of it at the plate.

Bergum’s play at the plate and at third base has made pitchers like sophomore Tyler Strub more comfortable on the mound.

“From a defensive perspective, its great to have a guy like him over at third because I know he’s got a solid glove, and I can rely on him if a ball gets hit to that side of the field,” Strub said.

Strub also went on to say that his solid bat also helps him relax, because he helps the offense have a greater chance of giving him run support when he’s on the mound.

Heading into this weekend’s season finale against the Hawkeyes, Bergum is batting .414 with a .526 slugging percentage.

As the season winds down this weekend in Iowa City, look for this freshman phenomenon to keep setting the pace, both with his bat and his glove.