Auburn Mountainview baseball cruises to district tournament

Lions win third straight to finish sweep of Thomas Jefferson.

After starting the season 0-6, the Auburn Mountainview Lions are not only in the playoffs , but they are playing some of their best baseball of the season as they closed out their regular season with 6-4 win against Thomas Jefferson on May 1.

“We’ve learned how good we are. I think they didn’t believe in themselves early on as much as they do now. There is a lot more confidence in every single one of them,” said manager Austin Simpson.

The Lions capped off the season on a three-game win streak, thanks in part to Caden Shoul on the mound.

“It’s him but also the team. At the beginning of the season, that inning would have ruined us. We bounce back from it, learn from our mistakes,” said Simpson.

He got the start in the final game of the season and went six innings, giving up five hits, no earned runs and eight strikeouts. The junior starter has been unreal since the calendar flipped to April and then to May as well. He threw in six games from April 2 to May 1, totaling 30.2 IP and held a 1.17 ERA over those six appearances.

Shoul was attacking hitters from pitch one of the game. Thomas Jefferson responded with an aggressive approach. But Should didn’t stray far from what he knows.

“I never put it in my head that they are better than me. I just thought I am going to go get this batter and look for weak contact rather than striking them out. I wanted to go long in this game,” Shoul said.

The Lions jumped out to an early lead against the Trojans, scoring a pair of runs in the first. With some advantageous base running, after hitting a leadoff single, Jacob Watrous came around to score on a dropped third strike. Then on the following batter, Gino Trippy stole home on some first and third trickery to take that 2-0 lead.

The Raiders responded with a run in the third inning aided by a Lion error, but that didn’t impact Shoul on the bump.

In the fifth, Shoul helped himself out. After some intense struggles at the plate early in the year, the hard work and extra time put in has paid dividends. He smacked a two-run double to increase the Lion lead to 4-1.

“It’s really nice to see all those late nights hitting off the tee start to hone in during the game. I knew I still could do it (hit), I just needed the opportunity,” he said.

The fifth was the biggest hurdle for Shoul to clear on the mound. The Raiders pestered him with balls in play and his defense was charged with a run scoring error, which aided the Raider offense. A second fifth inning error happened on a run scoring base hit, and a third run came across on a wild pitch.

As the two sides went to the sixth, Auburn Mountainview was knocking on the door to respond immediately. Gino Trippy has been the lightning rod the Lions needed all season, and he delivered in the clutch against the Raiders. He smoked a two-run triple to dead centerfield, scoring Watrous and Jay Swanson, who were the difference making runs.

“We know how good he is. He has a lot of hustle in him, and that impacts every single one of these guys. They’re all hustling, staying focused and picking each other up,” Simpson said.

The Lions are the second seed out of the 3A NPSL, and take on the PCL champion Stadium Tigers.

“We have all the confidence in the world. We’re on top of the world right now. I believe in our pitching and our hitting is much better than earlier in the season,” said Shoul.

Lions’ righthander Caden Shoul on the mound for Auburn Mountainview. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Lions’ righthander Caden Shoul on the mound for Auburn Mountainview. Ben Ray / The Reporter