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Seniors prevail 8-7 in nail biter
June 10, 2016 Frank Marquez   

Read more by Frank Marquez

Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Gering catcher Austin ‘Red’ Reynolds is chased by Zephyrs first baseman Gunnar Buchhammer while second baseman Josh Sturgeon awaits his toss in the bottom of the fourth. The move caught the Westco seniors sleeping as Esai Hernandez who was on third stole home. Reynolds ended up safe at second.

Head Coach Rick Kinnaman and his Gering Legion Post 36 Platte Valley Companies senior team (12-2) held off a late rally by the Twin Cities Westco Zephyrs Tuesday night, winning 8-7.

The B&C Steel Juniors didn’t fare as well at Oregon Trail Park, suffering a 12-4 loss to the Twin Cities in the early game.

“They (seniors) hung together as a team, and did what it took to win,” Kinnaman said. “Some of our younger guys found they could raise their level of play, and that had a huge impact on the team.”

Gering shortstop Brent Barge was the hero in last Tuesday night’s game with the walk-off ground out that brought home the winning run, though not before a few tension-filled innings. The team had to adjust to relief pitcher Chris Palomo taking over for Barge on the mound. After entering the game at the top of seventh inning, he allowed three runs by the Zephyrs to get back in it.

“It was a great team win,” Barge said. “It would have been nice to hold the lead after seven innings, but even though they fought back, we did a great job of staying confident, and were able to get the run we needed in the end.”

Gering took all nine innings to get the job done after the game was knotted at 7-7.

In the bottom of the ninth, leadoff batter Austin Reynolds made it to first base when Zephyrs shortstop overthrew. Pinch runner Quinton Janacek took over for Reynolds. After Palomo struck out, Austin Abbott clocked a Josh Sturgeon pitch deep to center for a double, advancing Janacek, who for a moment eyed home plate, seeing a fair chance at getting to home. Held up at third, he represented the go-ahead run, as the crowd settled. Barge was down in the count at 1-2 when he hit a short-roll bunt straight at the pitcher. Sturgeon fumbled it, and gave up on the throw. Janacek was already across home plate.

Palomo, who got the win for Gering, had some shining moments with five strikeouts, but allowed three runs in three innings. He also walked four batters and surrendered no hits.

Twin Cities’ Evan Hughes ended up on the wrong side of the pitching decision, charged with the loss. He allowed seven runs in 4-2/3 innings, walked three and struck out five.

Gering Platte Valley Companies seniors scored three runs of its own in the first. After two quick outs by the Zephyrs, Hughes walked Esai Hernandez, then hit Trace Fulk with a pitch. Reynolds then hit a leftfield single, followed by two more singles by Palomo and Abbott, enough for a 3-1 lead before the Zephyrs decided to take a timeout on the field.

Both teams held serve until the fourth inning, in which scoring mirrored the first. Lead batter Cooper Buchhammer started the Zephyrs off with a centerfield double. Brady Sindt followed with a right-field double, scoring Max Mason, who stepped in as pinch-runner for Buchhammer.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Gering’s Mike Gutherless, who was hit by a pitch to reach first, came across home plate after Hernandez sent a bolt up the right field line, followed by Trace Fulk’s single to right. Hernandez then advanced to third on a passed ball. Then, attempting to steal, Fulk got caught in pickle between first and second, while Hernandez snuck home for a second run. Meanwhile, Twin Cities missed the throw home, and Fulk landed safe on second. Reynolds’ double and Palomo’s single pushed Fulk across for the third score of the inning.

Gering’s seniors added one run in the fifth. Hernandez’s towering fly ball to center for a double scored Dalton Scott after he made it to second based on Gutherless sacrifice fly.

At the top of the seventh inning, Twin Cities countered with Palomo mixing strikeouts with walks. Buchhammer, who eventually scored, hit a double dropped by right fielder Fulk. Palomo walked Sindt, then hit batter Alexis Gurrola. Hughes reached first on a dropped third strike. Braden Lofink was walked while Morales scored to tie the game.

Gering will face Plattsmouth at Crete in its next home game on June 10, today.

TWNC 1 0 0 1 0 2 3 0 0 – 7 11 3

PVC 3 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 – 8 10 2
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