Gering Seniors one win from state championship Pitchers, batters , fielders pace Senior 36ers’ first 3 wins
     2012-08-03      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Zach Smith
 
One more victory.
That’s all that separates the Gering Platte Valley Companies American Legion Post 36 Seniors baseball team from the post's first Class B state championship since 1982.

By combining great pitching, timely hitting and playing great defense while taking advantage of opponents' errors and chasing starting pitchers, the Senior 36ers mowed through their first three state tournament games in Wahoo: 8-2 over three-time defending state champion Gretna, 7-0 Sunday over Beatrice; and a whopping 13-0, five-inning romp over Aurora.

Monday's win at Sam Crawford Field secured Gering PVC a berth in Wednesday's championship round, and Tuesday night's semifinal against Omaha Roncalli determined the Senior 36ers' position in the championship bracket.

And while Colin Chatterton turned in another stellar, complete-game pitching effort for the 36ers by sparing Roncalli just five hits, he met his match in Griffons hurler Tyler Alitz and his three-hit, complete-game performance.

The loss left Gering at 29-20 on the season, on the losing end of a game for the first time since July 17 and was just the Senior 36ers' second defeat in their past 10 games.

Gering's dreams of a state championship would be turned into gold or silver medals Wednesday night, after Roncalli (18-15) and Aurora (25-8 after rallying to knock out Beatrice 5-1 Tuesday) played for the other title game berth late Wednesday afternoon.
Since this week's Citizen went to press after Tuesday's game, Wednesday's game story may be found on www.geringcitizen.com and in next week's edition.

Gering's state tournament run -- preceded by a three-game sweep in Area 7 play, in which the 36ers outscored their opponents 21-4, has resulted behind solid pitching, timely hitting and stellar defense. What more could a coach in a state baseball tournament ask for?
For the tournament's first three days, first-year Seniors head coach Doug Jones got positive answers in all three categories, watching his top three pitchers allow just two runs while the offense has splintered the state opposition for 28 runs.

On Saturday, Gering PVC rode Zach Smith’s four-hit complete-game pitching effort and two doubles by Walker Britsch and two hits each by Nate Marquez and Seth Holthus.
Grant Rimington followed on Sunday with a three-hit shutout, complete-game effort in pacing Gering to an easy victory over Beatrice, which committed four errors to aid the 36ers' offensive longevity.

Then on Monday night, Danny O'Boyle held Aurora to four hits with three strikeouts and just one walk, and Post 36 combined nine hits with three Aurora errors in ste­­amrolling to the tournament's first run-rule victory.
Saturday and Sunday’s wins avenged earlier losses to both Gretna and Beatrice – not Jones’ primary concern, but nevertheless measuring sticks of how far Gering has come since the mid-June losses in the Crete Tournament.

“The pitching doesn’t mean anything if you can give them offensive support. But it’s nothing out of the ordinary of what we have seen lately, if you take care of the offensive side of things,” said Jones, whose team was 14-16 on June 23 but has since gone 15-4 entering Wednesday's tournament finale.
“Our pitchers have also been confident in their defense behind them to making plays, and it has all been working well for us. A lot of weird plays have gone our way, and Josh Burgener has done an excellent job of calling pitches behind the plate.”

RONCALLI 2, GERING 1
Alitz put a silencer on the Gering PVC bats, allowing the Senior 36ers three singles while he struck out six and walked five.
Alitz's performance was just enough better than Chatterton's, whose three strikeouts and no walks and one double in his five-hitter might have been sufficient for a Gering victory.
"Colin did a great job," Jones said of Chatterton, who threw only 64 pitches to Alitz's 110. "With the way we have been playing, we would have won. But we had a couple errors that just happened at the wrong time."
Gering's only officially tallied error came in the fourth inning, with Roncalli having grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second. However, the Senior 36ers had their chances for multiple-run rallies that went awry, before and after the game's three runs were scored.
Alitz got a strikeout and ground-out to start the game, but then he allowed a single by O'Boyle and walked Smith and Burgener to load the bases. However, Alitz got Seth Holthus to ground out to end the inning and leave the bases full.

Jake Tyrakoski began the Roncalli fourth with a double, the game's only extra-base hit, and he raced home after O'Boyle misplayed a grounder by Mitchell Kuntz. But the Griffons stranded two base runners while clinging to the 2-0 lead.
Gering PVC finally cracked through Alitz's shutout when Walker Britsch drew a two-out walk and scored on Nate Marquez's single to right.

The 36ers put together a possible tying or go-ahead rally while Alitz reached and surpassed the 100-pitch mark. Burgener got a leadoff single and Holthus drew a walk, setting up a sacrifice bunt situation for Reggie Reyes.
But Reyes got his bat under the ball enough to fly out to first base, and the runners never advanced as the game ended on two outfield fly-outs.
"He's a good pitcher," Jones said of Alitz. "He had great velocity on his fastball and his curveball was OK, enough to keep us off balance."
Even though Gering lost the game, Jones said it was a very entertaining, tension-filled competition.
"A 2-1 ball game is the kind everyone drams about playing and it's why I love baseball," he said. "Anything can happen on a given day, and (Tuesday) we came out on the short end."

GERING 8, GRETNA 2
Smith allowed just one run and two walks with five strikeouts in his four-hit pitching effort. He had the added bonus of taking a 6-0 lead into the Gretna half of the second inning after Gering PVC had scored four runs in the top of the frame.
Smith aided his own cause in the first inning when he singled home Rimington, who had doubled, and pushed O'Boyle – who reached on the first of three Gretna errors – to second. O’Boyle, who advanced to third on the throw back to the infield, then scored on Burgener’s sacrifice fly for a quick 2-0 Gering lead.

Smith walked one hitter in the first but otherwise had a quick inning on the mound with just 17 pitches. And then he was rewarded with the four-run rally that gave him a comfortable six-run lead.
Reyes and Holthus led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and Reyes scored on Britsch’s double. Marquez hit a hard ground ball into center that drove home Holthus from third and Britsch, and then he scored on a wild pitch to complete the four-run package.
Gretna scored a run in each of the second and third innings, but in its four final innings Gretna never had more than one base runner, and twice Smith and the 36ers retired the side in order.
Gering PVC added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, which started with O’Boyle being hit by a pitch. He later scored when Colin Chatterton reached on a Gretna error with the bases loaded.
Burgener, who reached third on a walk to Reyes, scored on Holthus’s sacrifice fly to score the Senior 36ers’ final run.

Marquez drove in two runs and scored once with his 2-for-4 effort at the plate. Holthus was 2-for-3 with his RBI sacrifice fly and scored one run. Britsch finished by going 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, while O’Boyle scored twice in his 1-for-3, hit-by-pitch effort.
The Senior 36ers chased Gretna starting pitcher Dalton Bartling after three innings and allowing nine of Gering’s 10 hits.

GERING 7, BEATRICE 0
On Sunday, Beatrice starter Colton Adams didn’t even make it through the third inning.
After Rimington blanked Beatrice through its first three innings, stranding three runners, Britsch and Marquez reached base on consecutive errors to lead off the Post 36 third inning. Rimington drew a walk, and the Beatrice staff made wholesale fielding changes that pulled Adams and put Tandon Dorn on the hill.
But O’Boyle welcomed Dorn with a hard grounder to shortstop to drive home Britsch. Smith followed with a hard-hit single to center that scored Marquez and Rimington and pushing O’Boyle to third.
In the following play that Jones said is typical of Gering’s success and unselfishness, Burgener grounded out to second for an RBI that plated O’Boyle for a 4-0 PVC lead.

“We’re just looking at it as a team thing. We’re hitting the ball well overall,” Jones said. “Josh Burgener hit a ball to the opposite side and didn’t get on base, but he scored a run. We are making the most of our at-bats. We’re putting the ball in play and getting very few strikeouts.”
Gering added its other three runs in the fifth inning of Dorn. Rimington led off with a triple to right and scored on O’Boyle’s ensuing double to left.

O’Boyle advanced to third on a bad throw back into the infield, and Smith drove home on a line-drive double to center. After a strikeout, Chatterton singled and put Smith on third, and Smith scored the final run when the Beatrice third baseman could not handle Reyes’ ground ball.
When it was finished, the 36ers had out-hit Beatrice 8-3 and benefitted from four Beatrice errors.
O’Boyle led the offensive assault with a 3-for-3, two-RBI, two-run effort with his run-scoring double. Rimington was 2-for-3 with a walk, triple and two runs scored, while Smith drove home three runs and scored one in going 2-for-3 with his double and three RBI with one run.

GERING 13, AURORA 0
Again, the 36ers' assault on opposing pitching began early, with Gering taking a 6-0 lead after a four-run third inning.
PVC got on the board in the second with Burgener singled home Smith and scored on Reyes' single.
Then after Marquez gave Post 36 a 3-0 lead in the fourth on a bases-loaded wild pitch, Gering chased its third straight starting pitcher when Aurora starter Ben McQuinton was pulled with one out and down 3-0 after loading the bases again.

The 36ers then immediately teed off on reliever Tanner Griffith, with Chatterton ripping a double that scored Smith and O'Boyle. Burgener, whose walk loaded the bases, scored on Reyes' sacrifice fly to complete the four-run rally.
In the fourth, O'Boyle reached first on an error that allowed Rimington to score. O'Boyle motored to third on the play and scored on Smith's sacrifice fly, giving PVC an 8-0 lead and thinking about an early ending an inning later.
The 36ers began their run-rule clinching, five-run fifth when Rimington doubled home Britsch, who had walked. Marquez, who had been hit by a pitch, and Rimington then increased the score to 11-0 on O'Boyle's triple to right.

Smith capped off the scoring with his fifth home run of the season that also drove in O'Boyle. Smith's homer gave him a 2-for-3, one-walk, three-RBI night. Holthus also was 2-for-3, while O'Boyle's triple led to his third run. Rimington scored two runs and had one RBI, while Burgener and Marquez scored twice each after they gained two walks.
"We hit the ball well and were more selective with their pitches," Jones said. "Next was Danny's performance. He really took care of business on the mound for us."

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