Gering Seniors get back on the winning track
     2012-06-15      By Terry Gaston   
Some upper-class competition over the weekend may have been what the doctor ordered for the Gering Platte Valley Companies American Legion Post 36 Seniors baseball team.

After losing its first three games in the North Platte Kwik Stop Tournament, Gering rode Zach Smith’s superb hitting and pitching effort in finishing the tourney with a 16-4 romp over Ogallala in Sunday’s seeded bracket final for seventh place.

On Tuesday night, Post 36 returned home to Oregon Trail Park and – after sparing visiting Oshkosh Post 210 a three-run lead in a scheduled nine-inning game – Gering erupted for 19 unanswered runs in rolling to a 22-6, seven-inning romp.

“Sometimes if you stick around long enough, you’re going to see it all,” said Gering Seniors coach Doug Jones, whose team (11-8) took a 9-6 lead with a six-run, fourth- inning rally that included three straight triples and sealed the run-rule victory with 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Seniors’ three losses at North Platte – 5-1 to Lincoln Southeast, 13-3 to Fort Morgan, Colo., and 10-0 to Hays, Kan. – followed an 8-4 victory Wednesday over the Buckley Bombers in Chappell.

GERING 22, OSHKOSH 6
Going into the scheduled nine-inning contest, Gering looked to build on its big win over Ogallala that included three home runs by Smith, the first three round-trippers of the Seniors’ season.
But Oshkosh, which had just 10 players available Tuesday night and is fielding a team for the first time since 2000, did not let Gering’s two-year state tournament experience prove intimidating.
The Garden County visitors stringed together three first-inning singles and jumped on a wild pitch to score twice. Although Gering tied the score in the bottom of the first, Oshkosh rode No. 1 hitter Devon Sullivan’s two-run homer to a 4-2 second-inning lead.
Oshkosh then led 5-2, but Smith cut into Gering’s deficit when he scored on a double to left and two-error combination.

To start the fourth, Jones went to his designated reliever of the night, left-hander Ethan McDaniel, after right-hander Josh Burgener drew the start. Although McDaniel gave up one more Oshkosh run in that inning, it would be the last time Gering trailed.

The Post 36 Seniors erupted in the bottom of the fourth with two outs when Danny O’Boyle drove home Bryce Burkhardt and Nate Marquez. O’Boyle scored the tying run on a wild pitch, then Grant Rimington tripled and scored on Smith’s triple to right-center for Gering’s first lead at 7-6.

“That was a pretty good piece of hitting,” Jones said. “O’Boyle, Rimington and Smith all have speed, and all they have to do is put the ball in the game and then they can go.”
Burkhardt got his second hit of the inning on a single to left that scored McDaniel, who had walked.

In the fifth inning, Walker Britsch and Marquez hit back-to-back doubles to ignite a three-run rally and build Gering’s lead to 12-6.
In the 10-run sixth inning, Gering had 16 batters who had just three singles and a three-RBI double by Rimington but also took advantage of two Oshkosh errors, two hit-by-pitches and five walks.

For the night, Post 36 rang up 14 hits, with Burkhardt going 3-for-5 with three runs and one RBI. Smith was 2-for-3 with his double, triple and two walks while scoring four runs and driving in two runners.

Marquez went 2-for-3 with two walks, was hit by a pitch and had three RBI and one double. O’Boyle was hit twice and otherwise went 2-for-4 with his triple, four total RBI and three runs scored. Rimington went 2-for-5 with four RBI on his double and triple with one run scored.

Battery mates McDaniel and Austin Ferguson each scored twice after they combined to draw six walks, four by Ferguson.
After allowing Oshkosh its last run on three fourth-inning hits, McDaniel (1-0) spared the visitors just three hits and had three strikeouts with no walks allowed in his four innings of relief.
“Twelve of his first pitches were strikes against 18 batters,” Jones said of McDaniel. “He hasn’t pitched a lot, but once he gets under control he can throw strikes and keeps hitters off base.”

Jones has been seeing his lineup slowly return to form following school trips and all-star games and is still missing outfielder Reggie Reyes, but he said he is seeing the Seniors starting to find their comfort zones both defensively and in the batting order.
“We have guys who are playing in their natural positions now,” he said. “Grant is traditionally a shortstop but is doing a good job at second when Danny plays shortstop. I think they feel better when they are in their own positions, and that makes a big difference.”
After Tuesday’s game, the Gering Seniors were to play the Wheatland (Wyo.) Lobos on Wednesday in another nine-inning contest before heading out for more tournament play starting Thursday in the Crete Senior Tournament.

Post 36 will open against Beatrice on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., followed by a contest against Pleasant Dale at 8 p.m. Gering will be off Friday, when the Seniors will attend the College World Series in Omaha, and they return to action in Crete on Saturday against Elkhorn Mount Michael at 3 p.m. If Gering qualifies, a seeded game will conclude PVC’s play later Saturday.

Gering then returns to Oregon Trail Park on Tuesday to face Helena, Mont., in a nine-inning contest beginning at 7:30 p.m. and visits Torrington on Wednesday for a nine-inning game starting at 5:30 p.m.

GERING 16, OGALLALA 4
Smith gave the Post 36 Seniors the shot they needed following their three losses Friday and Saturday in North Platte. At the plate, Smith was 5-for-5, belted his three home runs, drove in nine total runs and scored four runs.

The win snapped a drought of five losses in six games for Gering PVC.
Smith’s three homers came against three different Ogallala pitchers. His nine-RBI total was also a career-best, and his batting average rose to .488.

Smith’s offensive achievements paced Gering to a season-high 17 hits. The 16 runs scored were also the most scored by the Seniors in a game.

Smith also notched the win (3-0) on the mound by scattering nine hits, striking out eight and walking just one in six innings.
With the game tied at 1 through two innings, Gering ignited for five runs in the top of the third to take the lead for good.

In addition to Smith, Gering had multiple-hit performances from Rimington, Marquez, Burgener, Ferguson and Britsch. Rimington ripped three hits, while the others added two each.
Britsch had two doubles and O’Boyle pounded a triple. O’Boyle and Rimington both drove in a pair of runs.

GERING 8, BUCKLEY 4
Post 36 erupted with a 12-hit performance en route to earning the Panhandle Summer Baseball Conference win over the Buckley
Bombers in Chappell.
Gering (3-1 conference) scored eight runs in the first five innings to offer strong offensive support to Smith, who recorded 13 strikeouts.

Buckley scored a run in the bottom of the fifth and added three more in sixth before Smith blanked the Bombers in the seventh inning. Smith (2-0) allowed only four runs on five hits with just one walk.
Burgener led the Seniors’ swinging attack by going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs, and an RBI. Britsch was 2-for-4 with two runs, while Rimington went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. O’Boyle finished with two hits, a run and an RBI.

LINCOLN SE 5, GERING 1
Rimington got Gering started on the right foot in the Kwik Stop Tournament in North Platte by pitching three perfect innings against Lincoln Southeast.
Post 36’s early success, complemented by Collin Chatterton’s RBI ground-out to drive home Austin Ferguson, fell victim to three errors.

Rimington allowed five runs on four hits with five strikeouts in six innings. Gering mustered only four hits in the contest, with four players going 1-for-3.

FORT MORGAN 13, GERING 3
Errors proved costly in Gering’s second game Friday with five miscues against Fort Morgan, Colo., which also countered with a six-hit, seven-strikeout performance by pitcher David Mendez.
The Seniors drew first against Mendez, however, taking a 2-0 lead after the bottom of the first inning. But Fort Morgan responded in the top of the second with eight runs. With that comfortable lead, Mendez allowed Gering only one more run in the third.

Fort Morgan scored five more runs in the fifth to implement the run rule after Mendez blanked Gering in the bottom of the inning.
Smith paced Gering offensively by going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Rimington finished 2-for-3 with a run, while Ferguson was 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Nick Chitwood got the start on the mound for Gering, giving up eight runs on one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

Seth Holthus and McDaniel also saw mound time for Gering, with Holthus giving up five runs on four hits with two strikeouts in three innings. McDaniel went two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on one hit.

HAYS, KAN. 10, GERING 0
Post 36 was limited to just four hits in a six-inning game that dropped the PVC Seniors to 0-3 in pool play.
O’Boyle was dealt the loss after giving up all 10 runs and 12 hits in 5-1/3 innings. O’Boyle struck out five and walked three.

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