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Local teams represent well at regional Babe Ruth tournament
August 11, 2011 Lisa Betz   

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Members of the Gering 14 Babe Ruth All Star baseball team display the sportsmanship honor received during the weekend's regional Babe Ruth tournament. (L to R) Nic Bibb, Tanner Wilson, Travis Trauenicht. Back row (L to R):

Gering’s 14-year-old Babe Ruth All Star team, coached by Shane Wilson, Pedro Suarez and Jeff Timblin, hosted seven regional state champion teams over the weekend from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Nebraska. While the Gering team was not Nebraska’s state champion, traditionally the host team also plays in the tournament. Nebraska’s state champion team is Scottsbluff, coached by Steve Olsen.

Gering lost its first two games in the double elimination tournament, having first played Minnesota and losing 14-1. It’s a tough break when your first game is against the eventual champion, as was the case with Minnesota, who went on to claim the regional championship and is now headed to the World Series in Virginia.

In the second game, Gering clashed with Kansas. They were down 3-0 but playing very well when the game was called due to a lightning storm. The game reconvened the next morning but Gering started out a bit flat, giving up a few early runs, and ultimately lost 10-0.

Coach Wilson said “We had a great summer with these boys. The thing we lacked the most this summer was experience. We just didn’t get enough games to play at that level. These teams get 30-50 games and we had nine. With as few games as we had coming into this tournament, we played well, we made some amazing plays and we represented the city of Gering as good as we possibly could. I’m extremely proud of these boys.”

Coach Wilson has a lot to be proud of, as do the other coaches of the team, Pedro Suarez and Jeff Timblin. “They’ve played together since they were nine. We’ve always stressed that the name on their backs is not as important as the name on the front,” said coach Wilson.

This year marks the first time a sportsmanship award was given for the tournament. The Norm and Colleen Travis sportsmanship award, in honor of Norm Travis who was heavily involved in regional baseball, was awarded to the Gering team. “It was brought to my attention that the host team doesn’t usually win that award but apparently, they decided there was no other team that should have the award,” said coach Wilson.

Comments from other teams and coaches reflected the Gering’s team’s constant commitment throughout the tournament to root for the other teams. “They noticed that the Gering team was quick to do whatever was needed,” said coach Wilson. “Our starting pitcher, Brent Barge, during the Minnesota game, hit one of their players. We’ve always taught that we go to them when they get to first place, give them knuckle and tell them they are sorry. Other coaches said they had never seen that before in all of their years of baseball. I thought that was pretty neat,” Wilson said.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska’s state champion team was two and out as well. They were ready to play but ran into two great teams, having lost their first game by one point and fighting hard the whole time. They started the second game against Missouri and were down by nine runs but battled back to tie the game 10-10. The team showed a ton of heart and determination but unfortunately fell a little short, losing by just one point.

“We had a couple of really good games with Iowa and Missouri,” said Scottsbluff’s coach Steve Olsen. “We kind of have a history of getting down in games and having to come from behind. Our kids never give up, this is the fourth regional tournament this team has gone to. They’ve won five out of the last six state tournaments.
“For six years, they’ve become very good teammates, they display great sportsmanship. We play about 30 games a year. We go to Denver, Casper and Cheyenne and Omaha. We’ve played some pretty good competition, they’ve learned how to play good baseball and they’ve become good leaders.”

Local teams do not have a long history of playing regionally in this tournament. This weekend was Scottsbluff’s fourth appearance in this regional tournament and Gering’s first. To date, neither Gering nor Scottsbluff has yet appeared in the World Series.
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