Gering’s path to Area 7 finals relatively easy
     2012-07-27      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Zach Smith
 
That the Gering Platte Valley Companies American Legion Post 36 made Tuesday’s championship game in the Class B, Area 7 Tournament at Oregon Trail Park was relatively easy came as little surprise.
After all, the PVC Senior 36ers were the No. 2 seed, edged out of the top seed by the Chadron First Nationals by a mere one-tenth of a power point after the two teams split their four regular-season games.

But when the field was whittled to two teams Monday night, Chadron was not left standing.

Instead, the Alliance Post 7 Spartans, who were on the wrong end of a 20-3 count to the First Nationals on Saturday, turned the tables on Chadron 3-2 Monday night and earned the losers’ bracket berth in Tuesday’s championship game.

Alliance, the No. 4 seed, knocked off No. 5 Sidney 4-0 in Friday’s first-round game, while Gering used a five-run fifth inning to knock off No. 3 Ogallala to earn a day’s rest before PVC took on Chadron in the winners’ bracket final.
After Chadron ripped Alliance in Saturday’s first game, Ogallala remained alive by ousting Sidney 12-2.

On Sunday, Alliance avoided elimination with a game-tying rally in the seventh inning and eliminated Ogallala in the eighth inning 6-5. Gering, after having Saturday off, then rode two home runs to a 9-2 victory over Chadron, leaving the First Nationals and Spartans to battle for survival.
And Alliance showed, in spite of its huge loss to Chadron on Saturday, why they play the games.

GERING 6, OGALLALA 1
Gering Senior 36ers coach Doug Jones said he thought being the No. 2 seed would provide the two-time defending area champions with an easier path into Tuesday’s final, and he was right with PVC earning an extra day off after out-battling Ogallala.
While Gering hitters collected just four hits, a pair of two-run doubles by Josh Burgener and Reggie Reyes fueled the key fifth inning, which the teams entered tied at 1.
Three Ogallala errors and 10 stranded base runners didn’t help the No. 3 seeds’ cause.
“Ogallala has a good ball team, they are young and area force to be reckoned with the next couple years,” Jones said.
Danny O’Boyle reached first on a fielder’s choice and Smith gained base on an error, and both scored on Burgener’s double that broke the deadlock. After Colin Chatterton drew a walk, he and Burgener came across on Reyes’ double.
“We only had two hits in the fifth inning, but we just took advantage of their errors,” Jones said. “We may not hit the ball well every time, but we scrapped it out.”
Zach Smith scattered seven hits but struck out nine with two walks and one unearned run.
By virtue of the win Friday, Gering got a day off until PVC’s next game against Chadron.

GERING 9, CHADRON 2
And the extra day proved invaluable for the Senior 36ers, who got another strong pitching effort from Grant Rimington and gave him a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to his run-scoring single and Smith’s two-run home run.
“Grant did a great job, and he really worked his butt off on the mound,” Jones said of Rimington, who spared Chadron just five hits and allowed no walks. He got all his strikeouts by fanning three of his final hitters.
Rimington drove home Nate Marquez, who was hit by a pitch, on a hit-and-run play and stole second. O’Boyle’s left-field fly ball was caught for an out, but Smith’s left-field smash sailed over the fence for a 3-0 Gering lead.
Smith’s round-tripper was his fourth of the season, and for a short while, he remained the only Post 36 player with a homer.
Chadron gained one run back in the third, but in the fourth inning, Gering’s Seth Holthus showed that practice made perfect with a solo homer.

“In practice, he has been crushing the ball,” Jones said of Holthus, who was a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs and his RBI on the homer. “It was just a matter of time before he came up with some big hits.”
The PVC Senior 36ers sealed the victory with a four-run sixth inning, with O’Boyle’s dribbling single down the first-base line and quick feet allowing him to avoid the tag from pitcher Slade Hunn.
The play brought home a speeding Rimington from second, and O’Boyle then scored the final run after an error at second base.
“I don’t think we’ve hit our stride yet,” Jones said. “We still had some errors (two, but just one that led to Chadron’s fifth-inning run), but we played well enough for now.”
Gering collected 11 hits off Hunn, with Marquez going 2-for-3 with an RBI triple and two runs scored. Rimington finished 2-for-4 at the plate with his double, two RBI and two runs scored. Smith was 2-for-2 and drew two walks, scored twice and had his two RBI on his homer.

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