Gering ready to host Class B State Legion Tournament
     2013-07-25      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Gering PVC Senior Legion’s Dillon DeMott slides back to first base as the pitcher tries to catch him off guard, while Ty Neil of Ogallala receives the ball during a July 5 contest at home. 
After having qualified for the Class B State American Legion Senior Baseball Tournament three straight years, and winning the state title in Wahoo last summer, the Gering Platte Valley Companies Post 36 Seniors will be the host team for this year's event, starting Saturday at Oregon Trail Park.

The host team will be decisive underdogs, entering the eight-team tournament with a 10-25 record, losing nine of their last 10 games.
But to first-year Senior 36ers coach Rick Kinnaman, everyone comes to state with the same 0-0 record.

"The players took it bad that we didn't do well down at area," Kinnaman said after Gering PVC lost 9-2 to No. 1 seed Sidney and 12-10 to Chadron in the Class B Area 7 Tournament at Ogallala. "We had better expectations than that. But we got up Monday morning and went back to work."

While players and coaches have participated in fundraisers in past weeks for hosting the state tournament, the team can concentrate on its game plans thanks to Legion volunteers and the Gering Merchants Association's plans for special events, which are listed below.

"All we have to do is show up and play baseball," Kinnaman said. "You can call us favorites or underdogs, it still gets decided on the field. We feel we have a chance, the kids are working their tails off and have a good attitude and we'll see if we can take advantage of playing on our home field."

Gering PVC's first opponent will be Aurora, which edged Wayne 6-5 on a walk-off single for the Area 5 championship Tuesday night.
The game will be Saturday's finale and will follow the tournament opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Local talent will sing the national anthem and a five-member skydiving group from Colorado will drop in, weather permitting.

The first three games Saturday, listed with each area's finalists as of Tuesday if determined, will match Area 1 (Hickman-Norris) vs. Area 3 (to be determined Wednesday) at 11 a.m., Area 2 (Gretna or Waverly) vs. Area 6 winner McCook at 1:30 p.m., and Area 4 (Seward or Lincoln Lutheran Amigo's) vs. Area 7 (Sidney) at 4:30 p.m.
After Alliance won the first Area 7 final 6-0, Sidney rebounded to win the second title game 1-0 and the Area 7 championship.

Special events planned

The Gering Merchants Association has been asked to help give a big Gering welcome to tournament visitors and the Host Committee has arranged special tournament activities and extra-curricular opportunities to entertain players as well as their families and friends.
"The Legion baseball boys have been a great help to us whenever we’ve asked them to help set up for our Sugar Valley Rally lunches, Arts Festivals and other events, so we’re happy to return the favor,” said RaNae Garton, president of the Gering Merchants Association.
Those who can help welcome visitors from across Nebraska to the area are asked to e-mail the geringmerchants@yahoo.com.

This volunteer opportunity is open to all, and Gering merchants are being asked to volunteer for special events, including a Kick-Off Dinner, Friday from 7-9 p.m., at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Volunteers are asked to be at the amphitheater between 5-5:30 p.m.

On Sunday is the American Legion Pancake Feed from 7-10 a.m. Volunteers are asked to be at the Legion Hall at 5:30 a.m.
Also on Sunday will be a Classic Lanes Bowling Night from 7 p.m. to midnight. Volunteers are asked to be the bowling center shortly before 7 p.m.

"Thanks in advance for helping the Gering Merchants to support the Legion coaches and baseball players in their community service, and for helping to welcome tournament attendees," Garton said.

Gering bounced from area in two games

Gering PVC, seeded sixth in the six-team Area 7 Tournament in Ogallala, was a first-round, 9-2 loser to the top-seeded Sidney, which put the game away with four late runs.

Walker Britsch had two extra-base hits for Gering PVC, homering in the first inning and doubling in the third inning.

Devin Sullivan got the complete-game pitching win for Sidney. He allowed two runs, struck out seven, walked one and gave up seven hits.
The Senior 36ers found themselves in an offensive battle for tournament survival against Chadron but fell short in getting eliminated in their second area tourney game.

Britsch racked up four RBI on two hits for Gering PVC. He singled in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Senior 36ers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. A single by Austin Ferguson scored Dillon DeMott.
Chadron scored seven runs of its own in the first before Gering PVC scored three runs in each of the third and fourth innnings to pull even at 7-all. Chadron answered with a four-run fourth-inning rally.

After pushing across three runs in the top of the fifth, Gering PVC faced just an 11-10 deficit. A wild pitch and a two-run single by Walker set off Gering Platte Valley Companies rally.
Jerry Purvis also contributed to this story.

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