PVC Seniors look to find niche as postseason nears
     2012-07-16      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Gering - Platte Valley Companies pitcher Seth Holthus gains the start at pitcher as one of 10 senior team members playing in their final home game of the season on Tuesday against Chadron.
 
Any coach in any sport will say the same adage about the course of a season: It’s not about playing your best early, it’s how you are performing late, especially come postseason time.

With the Gering Platte Valley Companies Post 36 Senior American Legion baseball team ready to serve as host for the Class B, Area 7 Tournament starting next Friday at Oregon Trail Park, the Senior 36ers have turned a 1-7 slide into a winning streak of six straight and eight out of their last 10.

Unfortunately, the two losses in that 8-2 run have come in Gering PVC’s last three games, including a 12-5 loss to the Chadron Nationals on Tuesday at Oregon Trail Park in the team’s 10 senior players’ final game.
For the occasion, Gering coach Doug Jones started all 10 recent high school graduates, and the lineup started well.

Unfortunately for the Senior 36ers, the visitors started well also – and the Nationals just kept on going, thanks to some solid offense with 16 base hits and a six-hit, complete-game pitching effort from Tait Earney.
“We came out flat, and I don’t know if it was because we played so hard and so well over the week,” said Jones, whose team dropped to 21-18 for the summer with five regular-season games remaining.

After winning the first four games of its latest streak, Gering fueled the continued success over the weekend in Rapid City, S.D., by going 3-1 at the Festival in the Hills Tournament, a two-day, round-robin event.
The Senior 36ers opened play Saturday with an 11-7 win over the tournament host Rapid City Post 320 Stars and a 10-0, three-hit shutout by Grant Rimington against Sturgis.

In Sunday’s rematches, Post 320 avenged its Saturday loss to Gering with a 5-4 victory, but the Senior 36ers completed their sweep over Sturgis by downing the Titans 11-4 after breaking a 4-all deadlock with a seven-run sixth inning.
Gering stood at 14-16 after four losses, and seven defeats in eight games, after a June 23 defeat. Four days later, the PVC Seniors started winning.
With the exception of their 15-6 loss to the Gering Legion Alumni in a July 4 exhibition contest, the Senior 36ers had found the winning touch – offensively and defensively, even in Sunday’s loss to Rapid City 320.

“We went up there with the attitude that we were going to play well and to win,” Jones said of the Senior 36ers’ success in rapping at least 12 hits in each victory. “Even in the game we lost, we played well enough to win. We had the game in our hands and we just let it slip away. That’s just the way baseball is.”

CHADRON 12, GERING 5
In Tuesday’s game, Chadron jumped on Gering PVC pitcher Seth Holthus for a first-inning run and then broke a 1-all tie in the second with four runs on three hits and three hit-by-pitches against Holthus.
Gering hitters Nate Marquez and Grant Rimington had knocked back-to-back leadoff singles against Earney and Marquez scored on Zach Smith’s one-out ground ball to tie the game in the first inning.
In the top of the second, Chadron scored two of its runs on bases-loaded hit batsmen, and Slade Hunn began his three-hit day by driving home two runs on a single up the middle for a 5-1 Nationals lead.
The Senior 36ers scored once in the bottom of the second and closed to within 5-4 in the third when marked scored on a Nationals error and Josh Burgener drove home Smith on an up-the-middle single.
Holthus held Chadron quiet in both the third and fourth innings on just 26 total pitches, but the Nationals scored twice in the fifth to retake a three-run advantage at 7-4.
After Ethan McDaniel drew a leadoff walk and scored for Gering on Smith’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fifth, PVC was back to within two runs.
But then Chadron scored twice in the sixth and sealed Earney’s complete-game effort with three runs in the seventh inning. Earney spared Gering just six hits and held the Senior 36ers hitless in the fourth through sixth innings. He had just one strikeout and three walks.

Trevor Hinn, who caught Earney’s complete game, was perfect at the plate offensively by going 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Riley Stack also went 4-for-4 and was hit by a pitch, had three runs batted in and two runs of his own. Slade Hunn was 3-for-5 for Chadron with three RBI and one run scored, and No. 1 hitter Nate Abegglen went 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
“Chadron came out and hit the ball well,” said Jones, whose team split its two Panhandle Summer Conference games with the Cardinals – with each team winning on the road – along with two other tournament games won by the home team each time.
“We didn’t take care of the little things need to, and that is going to change. We will possibly see Chadron again in the first round of the area tournament, and we can’t let those things happen again, especially on our home field.”
Holthus (0-2) lasted five innings, scattering nine hits and seven runs with two strikeouts and two walks, but the three hit batsmen were costly.
Only Marquez got more than one hit off Earney, drilling a seventh-inning double through the third baseman Hunn to finish 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Otherwise, Earney spared only singles to Rimington, Josh Burgener, Colin Chatterton and Reggie Reyes.

GERING 11, RAPID CITY 7
In Saturday’s victories, Gering rode one of its best hitting days with the sweep by ripping a combined 27 hits — 12 in a come-from-behind opening win against Rapid City 320.
After falling behind 2-0 after three innings, the Senior 36ers broke through at the plate with a five-run fourth inning. Rapid City cut the margin to 5-4, but Gering answered with six runs in the sixth inning.
Trailing 2-0 through three innings against Rapid City 320 in the opener, Gering erupted for five runs in the top of the fourth and never trailed again. After Rapid City pulled within 5-4, the PVC Senior 36ers put the game away with six runs in the sixth.

Rimington led the 36ers’ dozen-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Danny O’Boyle, Burgener and Austin Ferguson all added two hits each.
Smith drove in two runs and had a double in aiding his victory on the mound, while Reyes also knocked in two runs. O’Boyle and Reyes both scored a pair of runs. O’Boyle and Ferguson also finished with doubles.
In pitching five innings, Smith (5-2) allowed three earned runs on 10 hits and struck out five. Holthus allowed three hits and walked two in the final two innings.

GERING 10, STURGIS 0
Gering PVC pounded 15 hits and scored all 10 of its runs in the first three innings against the Titans.
In addition to pitching five scoreless innings on the mound, where he walked just one and struck out five, Rimington (4-4) also aided his cause offensively by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a run batted in.
Adding two hits each to PVC’s assault were Marquez, O’Boyle, Reyes and Bryce Burkhardt. O’Boyle, Smith and Burgener all drove in two runs each. Smith and Burgener had a double apiece, while Marquez and O’Boyle each drove home two runs.

RAPID CITY 5, GERING 4
The Senior 36ers’ streak of six games ended when the Post 320 Stars overcame a 4-1 Gering lead after three innings with two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.
PVC was outhit 10-7 but got two hits each from Chatterton, who also drove home two runs, and Reyes. Smith had a hit and scored twice.
O’Boyle (2-4) struck out six Stars (29-23 after a 5-4 win over Sturgis) and walked none while he scattered five runs on 10 hits in taking the loss.

GERING 11, STURGIS 4
The final score would not indicate a come-from-behind win for the Senior 36ers, but indeed they trailed Sturgis 3-0 and 4-2 before they tied the Titans (12-26) in the bottom of the fifth inning on Burkhardt’s two-run single.
A seven-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth gave Gering the lopsided victory. Smith ignited the go-ahead and game-sealing rally with a two-run double, scoring Marquez and Bret Orozco.
The PVC Seniors reached 12 hits for the third time during the festival, with Marquez’s two singles and double setting the pace. Rimington and Burkhardt added two hits apiece, with Burkhardt driving home three runs and Smith getting his two RBI in the sixth. Ferguson and Chatterton also added doubles.
Orozco (1-2) gained the pitching victory with two hitless and scoreless innings in relieving Chatterton. Orozco struck out two and walked two. Chatterton allowed three earned runs, four overall, and all three Sturgis hits while striking out four and walking four.

WHAT’S AHEAD
The seeding for the Class B, Area 7 Senior Tournament was to take place Wednesday night in Bridgeport. Jones expected the Seniors to be seeded No. 3 behind Chadron after Tuesday’s result, with Ogallala grabbing the No. 1 seed.
Gering will then close out its regular-season schedule with five straight road games. The Senior 36ers travel to Oshkosh for a nine-inning game Sunday, then on Monday they head south to Sterling, Colo., for a 5 p.m. doubleheader against the Tigers.
Gering then finishes the regular season on Tuesday, with a split twin bill at Wheatland, Wyo., that has the Seniors facing Gillette at 5 p.m. and Wheatland at 7 p.m.

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