Gering rips Alliance for 20th victory
     2012-10-01      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen Bulldog junior Alexa Longoria (No. 3) winds up for a pitch as teammate, sophomore Brooke Doggett (No. 19) preps for the play on Tuesday at the Carpenter Center during a bout with Alliance. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Alliance 15-2 in three innings. 
TERRYTOWN — After having been stuck on 19 victories following two tough losses last Thursday, the Gering Bulldogs finally walked off the softball field Tuesday night as 20-game winners.

And as they have in two previous meetings against Alliance this season, the Bulldogs dominated in securing a 15-2 romp at the Carpenter Center and the Gering program’s first 20-win season since 2002.

“I’m real proud of them,” said Gering coach Molly Bonuchi, whose team had lost to District B-6 foes Cozad (15-3) and McCook (11-5) last week in the Ogallala Invitational — the first time the Bulldogs had lost consecutive games. “They got their 20th win, which hasn’t happened since I’ve been here.”

On a night when Gering’s four seniors — Jennifer Barge, Shayla Garetto, Maggie Martin and Brooke Satur — and parents were honored before the game, junior Jessica Rogers and sophomore Brooke Doggett provided the biggest blows in an 11-run, second-inning explosion that helped end the game early.

After Martin drew base on an Alliance error and sophomore Isabel Thompson drew a walk to start the second inning, both scored when a pickoff attempt of Martin at third sailed into the outfield and both Bulldogs scored.

Garetto then gained first on a bunt single and Rogers blasted the ball past the Alliance center fielder and to the fence for an inside-the-park home run and an 8-1 Gering lead.

Barge was then hit by a pitch on the left hip and was replaced at first by junior Allison Witcofski. After junior Aubrey Gonzales drew a walk and Garetto was hit by a pitch, Doggett drilled the ball over a leaping right fielder and trailed her three teammates home for a grand slam, making the score 12-1 for Gering.

But the host Bulldogs weren’t finished. Junior Alexa Longoria, the starting pitcher, then drew a walk, as did Martin and Thompson following a pitching change. Garetto drove home Longoria, and junior Isabel Wolf plated Martin for a 14-1 advantage.

During her at-bat, Thompson gave hitting a traditional home run her best shot, clearing the left-field fence but having the ball sail just foul. Thompson ripped another hard-hit foul to left before she eventually drew her walk and scored junior Allison Witcofski’s bases-loaded walk for the Bulldogs’ 15th and final run.

Longoria, who has seen considerable time in the pitching circle since Barge became plagued with shoulder soreness and has thus been rested more of late, improved to 5-2 and put last week’s losses aside by allowing Alliance just a first-inning single to junior Rachel Schoeneman.

The hit was without impact, because a fielding error allowed junior leadoff hitter Brianna Ridenour — who drew base on the first of her two hit-by-pitches — to score from third base.

Longoria’s three-inning victory came with a few struggles, with three hit batters (Ridenour twice) and three walks while she struck out two.

“We’ve been trying to get her some more innings and work her in more a little bit, because I don’t anticipate Jenn to be able to throw every game at districts,” Bonuchi said of Longoria.

Alliance (1-19) has proven to be fodder for Gering, which downed the host Bulldogs in Alliance 16-0 on Aug. 28 and 20-1 in the Scottsbluff Invitational on Sept. 7. Bonuchi felt like her team might have been easy on the visitors in light of their previous dominant successes.

“I was a little disappointed in our effort and our intensity just wasn’t there,” she said after watching Alliance take its first-inning lead and score twice in the third to prolong the eventual victory. “And going into districts, we’ve got to get better or they’re going to mow us down.”

Gering answered Alliance’s run with four of its own in the bottom of the inning. Thompson, who drew a leadoff hit by pitch, advanced and scored on a pair of wild pitches thrown to Garetto for the game-tying run.

Rogers and Barge had back-to-back RBI singles, with Garetto scoring on Rogers’ hit and Rogers scoring on Barge’s hit, and Barge came home when Satur drew a throw to second on her successful steal.

Gering shared the offensive wealth, with Rogers going 2-for-2 with three runs batted in, two runs scored and her two-run homer. Garetto was 2-for-2 with a walk and scored twice with one RBI.

Thompson scored three runs after being hit twice and drawing a walk. Martin scored twice after gaining base on an error and walk. And Doggett’s grand slam accounted for her team-high four RBI.

Seedings for the District B-6 Tournament, which will be played Oct. 4-5 at the McCook Jaycee Complex, will be released Thursday. Before Tuesday’s action, Gering had a commanding lead over McCook in power points for the top seed, 42.917 to 41.385. Scottsbluff was a narrow third (40.115) over Cozad (39.958), with Lexington fifth at 39.609 and Alliance sixth at 35.842.

“We have a target on our back and those are the things we need to get better at, to just keep the intensity and finish out the season,” Bonuchi said. “We’ve been trying some different things and switching the lineup a little bit and trying to get some kids some playing time in some different positions.

“You never know, all stops are out at districts, so we’re going to do what it takes to be able to go to McCook and compete.”

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