Gering Seniors rout Alumni, prep for Area 7 tournament
     2014-07-17      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Frank Marquez/for the Citizen - Gering Alumni K C McKee prepares to bat during the Alumni Game which took place at Oregon Trail Park against the Platte Valley Companies Senior Legion team. The PVC Seniors won against the alumni team with the total score of 14-3. 
Two years ago, the Gering Platte Valley Companies Senior American Legion Post 36 Alumni team scored its first victory in the five years the event had taken place on or near the Fourth of July.

After the Gering PVC Senior 36ers went on to win the Class B State Tournament in Wahoo, several of the alumni bragged that they had beaten the state champions.

The Alumni won again last summer, but on Sunday the Gering PVC Seniors regained the bragging rights in the seven-year series with a 14-3 rout at Oregon Trail Park.

Gering PVC Seniors coach Rick Kinnaman said the outcome was not the important factor for the 36ers as it was the opportunity to get back out on the field after a nine-day layoff. Gering PVC had its game at North Platte rained out last Wednesday.

“Our kids did really well,” said Kinnaman, adding that he stuck with his starting lineup for the first four innings before letting the players move into different positions. “Then we started having some fun and let the kids play in other spots.”

The Senior 36ers also used all their pitchers in the game, which also served as a warm-up for Gering PVC’s first-round game Friday in the Class B Area 7 Tournament at Alliance. Thus starter Logan Conn, after his teammates scored twice in the bottom of the first inning, gained the victory on the mound.

Esai Hernandez homered in the first inning to help get the Senior 36ers started against the Alumni. In the third inning, Gering PVC erupted for eight runs to take a 10-0 lead.

The Alumni were not discouraged, however, even trailing 11-0 going into the seventh inning. Despite having a limited roster, they wanted to keep going for nine innings, and they scored once in the seventh and two more in the ninth to make the extra effort on the warm afternoon worthwhile.

The Alumni had six hits, including four by members of the 2012 state championship team: current Senior 36ers assistant coach Danny O’Boyle, Nate Marquez, Grant Rimington and Bret Orozco. Other hits came from Vince Rodriguez and Wade Brashear.

Rodriguez, K.C. McKee and Austin Ferguson – another state champ team member – scored the Alumni’s three runs.

“We only had about 12 or 13 players, but the guys had fun,” said designated Alumni coach Tim Marquez, who was unable to play while he awaits having knee surgery. “I just wish we had more players, and some of them had to leave.”

Marquez said he thought the game, traditionally played on the Fourth of July, would draw more players and fans – if it remains a part of Oregon Trail Days – if it were played on Friday afternoon following the Deter Dynasty golf tournament.

“I’m just thinking Friday would be a good time,” he added.

For the PVC Seniors, Brent Barge and Nick Ferreyra had two hits apiece and turned all four hits into runs. Dillon DeMott had three runs scored for Gering PVC, while Nate Ferreyra also scored twice.

The Senior 36ers (22-14) were set to complete their regular season Wednesday night with a doubleheader at Chappell against the Buckley Bombers.

Area 7 Tournament

Gering PVC enters the Area 7 Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the five-team bracket. The Senior 36ers will take on No. 3 seed Ogallala on Friday at 7 p.m. at Bower Shankland Field in Alliance.

As the 2012 state championship team discovered, being the second seed in area play can be advantageous, since a first-round win gives the victor Saturday off until its second game on Sunday.

Friday’s opening game matches No. 4 seed Alliance against No. 5 seed Chadron. Sidney is the No. 1 seed and will play the Alliance-Chadron winner on Saturday at 7 p.m.

A win by Gering PVC over Ogallala puts the Senior 36ers into Sunday’s 7 p.m. contest, while the loser comes back Saturday at 5 p.m. for an elimination game against the Alliance-Chadron loser.

Action continues through Tuesday, with the championship game set for 5:30 p.m. If the undefeated team loses that game, a second championship contest will follow the first game. The area winner advances to the Class B State Tournament in Blair.

Gering PVC is 2-0 against Ogallala this season, including a 3-1 win July 5 at Ogallala. The Senior 36ers are 2-1 against Sidney, 3-0 vs. Chadron and 1-3 against Alliance.

Kinnaman said he thinks no team has a decisive advantage going into the area tournament.

“The advantage we have is that while we have no power pitching, if we happen to fall into the losers’ bracket it won’t be disastrous,” Kinnaman said. “Our defense should be the best there, and if we get our bats going, then I think we have a good chance.”

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