Final Point: Legion’s state championship run was for ‘Mags’
     2012-08-09      By Terry Gaston   
When the Gering Platte Valley Companies Senior American Legion Post 36 baseball team awoke in Wahoo to start preparing for its first game of the Class B State Tournament on July 28, the 36ers expected to be ready to focus on trying to win the state title that had eluded them in two previous trips.

Instead, the team was hit with a much more important life experience.
Gering High School graduate and former athletic standout Taylor Magdaleno, who had played Legion baseball, was killed overnight in a one-vehicle accident near Minatare.

Magdaleno was Zach Smith’s cousin.
“We did it all for ‘Mags,’ “ said Smith, who earned the 36ers’ state-clinching victory on the mound and added to Gering’s 5-1 victory over Omaha Roncalli with four runs batted in — including his three-run double in the top of the seventh inning that sealed the victory.

“We couldn’t do it without our guardian angel out there,” Smith added during an interview on Hometown Family Radio.
Catcher Josh Burgener, although certainly not as close to Magdaleno as Smith and not as tight to the former Legion player as other teammates, said he still felt the presence of “Mags” during Gering PVC’s tournament run.

“My brother (Jeremy) played baseball and basketball with him,” Burgener said. “I knew him well enough to know it was heartbreaking. But it did mean a lot to me. It was something that was inspirational to us.”

Tim Marquez, the father of center fielder and leadoff hitter Nate Marquez, said the players started writing “Mags” with their bats all around the infield dirt after their fielding practice.
Indeed, they were surrounded by Magdaleno’s spirit — if not having actual angels surrounding them.

“It was something out of ‘Angels in the Outfield,’” Gering Seniors coach Doug Jones said. “Reggie Reyes’ mom made sure she had the players’ right shirt sizes. Then Logoz made the shirts and we got them over-nighted.“

The shirts arrived Wednesday morning, and immediately the team members and coaches donned their rally shirts, sporting the phrase “This one’s for Mags.” They wore them all day and to Sam Crawford Field, all the way through infield practice.

Nate Marquez had an added, season-long inspiration born out of a family death. His grandfather, Tim’s dad, Tony Marquez, died at age 76 on April 10.
And before Nate’s leadoff at-bat in Wednesday’s championship game, Marquez took his bat and not only wrote “Mags” but also “Gramps” in the dirt.

On the game’s third pitch, Marquez singled and later scored on Smith’s hit. Smith later extended a 2-1 Gering lead with a three-run double in the top of the seventh to cap the victory.
During the awards ceremony, the Nebraska Legion officials presented the Gering players with STATE CHAMPS shirts, which featured red screen print on white. But for their team champions photo, the 2012 Senior 36ers instead returned to their shirts of the day, and their rally cry, “This one’s for Mags.”

When the team returned home to Oregon Trail Park on Thursday, the 36ers had a variety of team photos taken, with Platte Valley Companies sponsors and Post 36 Legion representatives.
But then the team members reassembled for one more photo opportunity, with Chris Schwartzkopf, Magdaleno’s mother, holding the state championship plaque in the middle of the players and coaches.

Sometimes life can throw a curveball into the best plans of life. It’s how you take the curveball, though. You can either get back into the batter’s box and let the pitcher command your next cut, or you can let the situation overtake you.

“Our guys just came together,” Jones said. “As far as me taking much credit as a coach, I can’t take any. The guys on the field were taking care of business and they had a lot to play for.”-

For the record:

The best way to summarize a season is with statistics. At least, it is the most tangible way.
In reviewing the team totals and the well-distributed and even individual numbers, it is easy to see how Gering won with a true team philosophy.
So here are the final season statistics for the Gering Seniors’ state championship run, both team totals and individual leaders.

Games played — 50. Most by player: Grant Rimington 50, Josh Burgener 49, Nate Marquez and Zach Smith 44, Walker Britsch 43, Danny O’Boyle 41, Colin Chatterton 40.
Plate appearances — Team: 1,644. Individuals: Grant Rimington 200, Nathan Marquez 180, Josh Burgener 178, Zach Smith 166, Danny O’Boyle 158.

At-bats — Team: 1,343. Individuals: Grant Rimington 160, Josh Burgener 154, Nate Marquez 141, Zach Smith 137, Danny O’Boyle 129.
Batting average — Team: .313. Individuals: Grant Rimington .419, Zach Smith .409, Nate Marquez .369, Danny O’Boyle .357, Colin Chatterton .306.

On-base percentage — Team: .423. Individuals: Grant Rimington .518, Nate Marquez .494, Zach Smith .488, Danny O’Boyle .451, Austin Ferguson .417, Reggie Reyes .405.
Slugging percentage — Team: .427. Individuals: Zach Smith .730, Grant Rimington .581.
Danny O’Boyle .504.

Base hits — Team 420. Individuals: Grant Rimington 67, Zach Smith 56, Nate Marquez 52, Danny O’Boyle 41.
Doubles — Team 93. Individuals: Zach Smith 19, Grant Rimbington 17, Josh Burgener 12, Austin Ferguson 11.

Triples — Team: 18. Individuals: Zach Smith 5, Danny O’Boyle 4, Grant Rimington 3.
Home runs — Team 8. Individuals: Zach Smith 5, Seth Holthus 1, Danny O’Boyle 1, Grant Rimington 1.

Runs batted in — Team: 284. Individuals: Zach Smith 59, Grant Rimington 42, Josh Burgener 36.
Runs scored — team: 363. Individuals: Nate Marquez 59, Grant Rimington 55, Danny’O’Boyle 45, Zach Smith 40.
Stolen bases — Team: 146. Individuals: Nate Marquez 37, Zach Smith 20, Danny O’Boyle 19, Grant Rimington 18, Walker Britsch 15.
Hit by pitch — Team: 48. Individuals: Nate Marquez 11, Danny O’Boyle 7.

Walks — Team: 223. Individuals: Grant Rimington 29, Nate Marquez 26, Zach Smith 24, Walker Britsch 21, Austin Ferguson 21.
Strikeouts — Team: 236. Individuals: Walker Britsch 37, Austin Ferguson 33.

Pitching record — Zach Smith 8-2, Grant Rimington 7-4, Colin Chatterton 5-3, Danny O’Boyle 4-4.
Innings pitched — Grant Rimington 68-2/3, Zach Smith 67, Danny O’Boyle 51-1/3, Colin Chatterton 51.
Runs allowed — Team: 279 (167 earned). Individuals: Colin Chatterton 47 (25 earned), Danny O’Boyle 36 (25 earned), Grant Rimington 34 (22 earned), Zach Smith 34 (18 earned).
Earned run average — Team: 3.66. Individuals: Zach Smith 1.88, Grant Rimington 2.24.

Walks allowed — Team: 113. Individuals: Colin Chatterton 19, Zach Smith 16.
Strikeouts — Team: 280. Individuals: Zach Smith 76, Grant Rimington 71.

Fielding percentage — .921 (108 errors). Individuals (among regular starters): Josh Burgener .982, Austin Ferguson .978, Colin Chatterton .960, Nate Marquez .954, Seth Holthus .931.

Final season record— 30-20.
Bottom line — State champions.

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