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Lions roar to district title, prepare for state 3A play | Baseball

Lions second baseman Matt Anderson gets a force out on Bonney Lake’s Michael Gretler while Auburn Mountainview shortstop Tyler Friis backs him up. The Lions won two games last Saturday, capturing the district title and punching their ticket to the state 3A baseball tournament.  - Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Lions second baseman Matt Anderson gets a force out on Bonney Lake’s Michael Gretler while Auburn Mountainview shortstop Tyler Friis backs him up. The Lions won two games last Saturday, capturing the district title and punching their ticket to the state 3A baseball tournament.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter

Junior Joey Cassano's walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning powered second-ranked Auburn Mountainview to an 8-9 win over Peninsula last Saturday, earning the Lions the West Central District III/Southwest District 4 title and a No. 1 seed into the state 3A tournament.

The district title is the first ever for the Auburn Mountainview baseball program. Coach Glen Walker said gives the team a crucial boost heading into the state tourney.

"I'm very confident that they think we can win," Walker said. "They have the swagger and confidence. Winning the district tourney and giving us the first championship we've ever had helps that. The best thing about this team is they know, no matter where we are, we have a chance to win every game."

After falling into an 8-0 hole, the Lions (22-3) narrowed the gap, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the third inning.

In the seventh, Auburn Mountainview senior Josh Minton smashed a pinch hit double to right center, sending in the tying run to push the game into extra innings and setting the stage for Cassano's game-winning home run.

Senior Nick Brooks finished 2-of-3 from the plate with a home run and three RBIs for the Lions. Sophomore Mason Cerrillo belted a home run and three RBIs and senior Shawn Guinn added an RBI.

Sophomore pitcher Justin Marsden earned the win in relief, giving up four hits and striking out three in 3.2 innings of work.

Senior Alex Weymiller was tagged with the loss for Peninsula (15-9).

The Lions begin play open state against No. 7 Glacier Peak at 1 p.m. this Saturday at Ed Wheeler Field in Centralia.

A win earns Auburn Mountainview a second game at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Decatur versus O'Dea game.

The state 3A tourney continues on May 24 at GESA Stadium in Pasco.

ALSO: Honors for the Lion baseball team are pouring in with Brooks earning a nod on the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune all-area teams. Brooks was also named the South Puget Sound League 3A Most Valuable Player. In addition, senior Jeffrey Morgan was named to the TNT's all-area team and Coach Walker was chosen as the Seattle Times' Coach of the Year.

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