Zephyrs hold off Gering Seniors for 13th straight win:Two errors allow 36ers to avoid shutout in 7th inning but leave Gering short 4-3
     2014-07-02      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Sheila Weber/Sheila Weber Photography - Gering’s Esai Hernandez tries to tag Zephyr Leighton Freeze out at home but the referee called it safe during the Tuesday night clash. After a late juniors game in extra innings, both teams fought hard in the late-starting game. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – Westco Twin Cities Zephyrs American Legion baseball coach Mark Moran had praised his team’s defense as a key element in its run of 12 consecutive victories entering Tuesday night’s Post 36 tussle against the Gering Platte Valley Companies Senior 36ers at Cleveland Field.

In trying to preserve a shutout in scoring its 13th straight win, however, the Zephyrs committed two seventh-inning errors in allowing Gering PVC to trim a 4-0 deficit to 4-3.

But that fourth run for the Senior 36ers was denied with two game-finishing outs, and Gering PVC’s own winning streak came to an end at seven straight after the Senior 36ers committed three errors of their own.

“We played well until the very end, and then we made a couple mistakes there,” said Moran, whose team improved to 28-10 and is within one win of tying Moran’s career-best streak of 14 wins set in 2006.

“We played good defense until the very end. There’s a little bit more adrenaline, stress, maybe nervousness in a game like this.”

Both pitchers went the distance for their respective teams Tuesday night, allowing just 11 hits between them.

Zephyrs right-hander beau Lofink (8-2) scored his third victory over Gering PVC in as many outings by holding the Senior 36ers to 5 hits (three before the seventh inning) with six strikeouts and two walks. Lofink’s three runs allowed were all unearned.

“We’ve pitched well throughout the streak and have played good defense nearly the entire time,” Moran said. “We just have to get a little more consistency on offense, but I’ m happy with these guys to put 13 in a row together.”

Gering PVC right-hander Nick Ferreyra (4-2) allowed six hits and four walks with two strikeouts in his six-inning effort.

“We were pretty shaky offensively, but give their guy credit,” Moran said of Ferreyra. “He threw it in there.”

Ferreyra allowed two hits each to Leighton Freeze – who was 2-for-3 with one run scored – and hot Zephyrs hitter Traceten Halley, whose 2-for-3 outing gave him a run of 8-for-12 in Westco Twin Cities’ last five games.

Halley’s two-out, two-run single to left field in the bottom of the third inning drove home Ty Benson and Jackson Hinze, giving the Zephyrs a 2-0 lead that could have been prevented.

However, with the third out of the inning in his glove, Gering PVC left field Dillon DeMott bobbled the ball and allowed Benson to reach base on the error. Hinze followed by gaining a walk off Ferreyra.

Halley drove home Hinze in the fifth inning for a 3-0 Westco Twin Cities lead, and the Zephyrs added their fourth run in the sixth frame when Freeze scored on Jason Amateis’ sacrifice fly to DeMott in left-field foul territory.

“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs and played some pretty decent ball lately,” said Gering PVC coach Rick Kinnaman, whose team won the Sidney Tournament over the weekend by outscoring its four opponents 51-12.

“We’ve been making these errors but have been able to have enough offense to overcome them. Tonight it came back and bit us.”

Gering PVC’s comeback bid in the seventh began with a one-out single by Nic Bibb. Brent Barge took a hit-by-pitch from Lofink, and Bibb scored on a high throw to first by Hinze. Another error brought home Barge and DeMott, but that was as close as the Senior 36ers came.

Gering also had a pair of two-hit k\performances. Esai Hernandez was 2-for-3 with a walk and Bibb went 2-for-3.

“When you come that close and have that much invested, you don’t like to lose games like this either,” Kinnaman said. “So we’re just going to have to patch some holes, put the sail back up so we can keep going.”
The Senior 36ers played at home against Torrington on Wednesday, then the Gering B&C Steel Juniors and the Seniors play host to Sidney today (Thursday) starting at 5 p.m. at Oregon Trail Park. Gering will then be at Ogallala on Saturday for a junior-senior doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.

The Zephyrs will take to the road for five days, starting today (Thursday) at cody, Wyo., in a 7 p.m. game. Westco Twin Cities will spend the Fourth of July afternoon Friday with a 2 p.m. game at Billings, Mont., before the Zephyrs go to Bozeman, Mont., for tournament action Saturday through Monday.

“I’ve been on the phone with some guys who have played these guys, and the reports coming back say it looks like we’re going to have some tough competition,” Moran said. “But we’re looking forward to it.”

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