State tourney host Gering gets swept out
     2013-08-01      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Aurora first baseman Jordan Hohwieler gets Gering’s Nathan Ferreyra out in a close play during the opening game of the Class B State Baseball Tournament in Gering Saturday. 
Young PVC team looks to learn from home state tournament experience

Gering’s chance to showcase improvements to Oregon Trail Park as the host of the Class B State American Legion State Tournament and defending state champion got off to a great start Saturday night for the host Platte Valley Companies Senior 36ers.
After quickly scoring the first run in its tournament opener, Gering PVC held its own for one inning in playing the prime-time, showcase game awarded to the tourney’s host team.

Then, the much more experienced Aurora team that finished third in the 2012 state tournament took command against the youth-laden Gering Seniors, turned an error and double into three second-inning runs, stringed together four hits in for four more runs in the third and rolled to an 11-1 victory in five innings.

The loss dropped Gering PVC into the losers’ bracket on Sunday, and in their sixth meeting of the season against Area 7 and Panhandle Baseball Conference rival Sidney, the visitors overcame five errors while the Senior 36ers committed seven and Sidney ended Gering PVC’s season with an 11-2 victory.

So for their short stay on the field as state tournament hosts, the Senior 36ers allowed 22 runs, 20 base hits, scored just two runs and have five hits and committed nine errors.

Nevertheless, with just four returning players and a new head coach in Rick Kinnaman, the coach said he felt Gering PVC (10-27) had its chances but, as it had all season, just could not put together a clean, complete game.

“It’s the same thing that has happened to us all year long. We didn’t throw enough strikes and we made the mistakes in the field that have come to haunt us. We put as much talent on the field as they do. We’re just not consistent.”

Gering PVC, with a little bit of drizzle wetting the field for the opening ceremony and final game Saturday, started aggressively with Dillon DeMott laying down a first-pitch bunt single that Aurora third baseman Eli Bricker threw high to first base.

So just seconds into their state tournament debut, the Senior 36ers had DeMott on second base. Staying aggressive, Walker Britsch put down a sacrifice bunt that let DeMott advance to third.
Austin Ferguson then popped a sacrifice fly to center field, and DeMott scurried home for a quick 1-0 lead for Gering PVC.

But the Senior 36er mustered just two more hits against Aurora right-hander Jeremy Otto, who overcame five walks and a hit by pitch to get the five-inning win. By the time Gage Smith got Gering PVC’s second hit in the fourth inning, however, Otto’s mates had given him a 7-1 lead.

“We came out and played a little small ball, but we couldn’t ever get back into that situation again,“ Kinnaman said.
Aurora had three players with two hits apiece, including catcher Tyler Dubas who had three runs batted in on two singles. Ben McQuiston had a two-RBI double in going 2-for-2 with a walk and scored twice.

In the sixth meeting of the season between Gering PVC and Sidney, the teams committed a combined 12 errors. However, Sidney got the best of the Senior 36ers for the fourth straight time by taking advantage of Gering PVC’s seven miscues.

Kinnaman submitted an overhauled lineup that had four different starters from Saturday. Brent Barge and Logan Conn had been brought up from the Gering B&C Steel Juniors team that the weekend before had played in the Class B Juniors State Tournament at Elkhorn-Mt. Michael.

“I was just trying to put the best team I could on the field, and I was trying to produce some runs,” Kinnaman said. “It was a struggle for us all year long and we never did find anything that really worked, so we kept shaking.

“They’re really going to be really good players. It’s going to be easy to look forward to next year.”
The result, however, was unfortunately the same for the Senior 36ers. Sidney pitcher Lane Harvey held Gering PVC to just two singles, struck out seven and had just one walk.

“He kept us off balance a little bit,” Kinnaman said of Harvey. “When we did hit it well, we hit it at them. We just couldn’t get a break. They always make errors and I knew they would keep us in the game if we just wouldn’t make the mistakes, but it bit us again.”

Three Sidney players had two hits apiece, with Colton Onstott hitting the team’s only double while he added a single and had an RBI on each hit.
So with their season ending with 11 straight losses and a 10-27 record, Kinnaman said he and the team talked about the good things about the season, thanked the four returning players who provided leadership from the state championship team of 2012, and started to plan for the 2014 season.

“I just told them that I appreciated their hard work,” Kinnaman said. “I’ll guarantee you there’s not a team here that gets up at 6:20 in the morning, goes in and lifts, practices at 9 then comes back in the afternoon and practices. We worked our tails off. We just never got over the hump.”

Tournament nears end with great
competition


As the tournament progressed, and both Sidney and Aurora were both eliminated Monday to finish tied for fifth, it became obvious to most fans that the final four teams in the Class B State Tournament were clearly the best in the field.

First, Waverly -- a 7-0 loser to Lancaster County rival Hickman-Norris on Sunday eliminated Sidney in Monday's first game, 14-2 in five innings.

After the tournament's first nine games were played without having a ball clear the outfield fence, Elkhorn-Mt. Michael finally brought the long ball into tournament play Monday afternoon, hitting three home runs in its 5-2 elimination victory over Aurora.

The game also ended a string of first- and second-round games where the closest winning margin was four -- that coming in one of Sunday's three shutouts, Seward's 4-0 win over Aurora -- and four teams reached double figures in run production.

The team that represented the Gering PVC was in the 2012 state tournament in Wahoo but lost its semifinal game to Omaha Roncalli.
Hickman-Norris, which played result 2011 Class B state champion Elkhorn-Mt. Michael on Tuesday night,whatever happens.
Seward drew close rival Waverly in Tuesday’s elimination game and here will be the result.

After the first eight games were played without having a ball clear the outfield fence, Mt. Michael finally brought the long ball into tournament play Monday afternoon, hitting three home runs in its 5-2 elimination victory over Aurora.

Waverly had eliminated Sidney in Monday’s first game, 14-2 in five innings.
The game also ended a string of first- and second-round games where the closest winning margin was four — that coming in one of Sunday’s three shutouts, Seward’s 4-0 win over Aurora — and four teams reached double figures in run production.

“It is fun as heck,” Kinnaman said of getting to serve as the host team for the state tournament. “We see a little better competition than we’ve been seeing.

“This (Hickman-) Norris team, they’re dang good. They’re fun to watch the way they throw it around, and hopefully our guys can pick a few things from them.”

Because of the Gering Citizen’s Wednesday morning press time, a story on the championship games and state tournament wrap-up will be posted online on www.geringcitizen.com, and coverage will conclude in the Aug. 8 edition of the Citizen.

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