Auburn Mountaview holds on to beat Riverside at home

Lions rode a 7-run third inning and survived a late push from the Ravens.

On a night where Auburn Mountainview baseball had to put its foot down and stop the bleeding, they did just that. The Lions hosted rivals Auburn Riverside in an ever important 3A NPSL contest April 26.

The Lions over their last three games have been stone cold, results wise, losing a pair to Kentlake and the first game to the Ravens.

Meanwhile, Auburn Riverside has surged, winning four out of their last five, including a current three game win streak. But all that momentum came to a screeching halt with the Lions outlasting the Riverside comeback and defeating the Ravens, 9-8.

“To come out here in a night game against another rival who is a real good team… It was a great game,” Lions Head Coach Austin Simpson said.

Based on how this game started, that result seems like a long way off. For the most part that is true. For the first few innings it looked like the first team to get to three runs was going to be the one to win this rivalry game.

“It meant a ton to us…None of us wanted to come out of this game with a loss,” Mountainview’s Jeremiah Weatherford said.

Auburn Riverside has given up nine or more runs just twice this season. Their T-Mobile Park game against Mount Si (13-1, April 6) and Tahoma (9-8, March 14) were the two highest scoring games from an opponent this season. For the Lions, this was the first time all season they have scored more than four runs against a team with a record over .500.

“We know what we have with this team. This is an awesome group of guys, I love every single one of them. We know what they can do. Few games we get unlucky, but we bounced back in this game,” Simpson said.

In the opening frame, Auburn Riverside struck first, which they have done with commonality this season. In 18 games, the Ravens have scored first in 10 of those games with a record of 7-3 in those games. Cameron Bain drove in Caleb Anardi with a two-out base hit up the middle off Lion starter Caden Shoul.

But the Lions punched back in the second inning, and showed what kind of game this would be. Brighton Brown got his night going with a two-out, two-run double down the left field line to put Auburn Mountainview out in front.

Two-out hitting was an early theme in this ballgame, with both teams finding some clutch hitting. Andre Muneton recorded his game-tying RBI with two outs on a single in the top half of the third. That base hit would all be forgotten because of what the Lions had to say in the third inning.

Auburn Mountainview sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning. The first six reached base without recording an out. When all was said and done, the Lions scored seven runs on five hits and four walks. The seven-run inning is the third highest single inning total of the Lions season so far. On the flip side of that coin, the Ravens pitching staff has only allowed three 5-plus-run innings this season.

Danner Philbrick (1-3, 2 RBI, BB, R) got it done at the plate and made some crucial plays on defense at first base.

“The kid is amazing. He’s defensively strong and with that bat they know he is going to hit… He was a little cold at the beginning of the season. But now he’s hot,” Simpson said.

That was it for the Lions’ bats, much due in part to Will Sims. If it wasn’t for some clutch pitching out of the Lions’ bullpen, Will Sims could have singlehandedly won the game for the Ravens. He came in relief in that third inning and proceeded to throw 4.2 innings, allowing one hit and no runs.

The Ravens’ offense applied a lot of pressure down the stretch to Shoul, making him reach his pitch count limit in just the fifth inning. In that fifth inning, Auburn Riverside got right back in the game with a four-run inning — a run scored on four consecutive at-bats in the fifth, three coming after what should have been an inning-ending groundball.

Jeremiah Weatherford was the difference for Simpson’s side. He came in to pitch in the fifth and had two errors behind him in the field. He kept his composure and escaped with minimal damage: “I had to do what I had to do,” Weatherford said.

The Ravens continued to be a pest to Weatherford on the bump. In the sixth, two Ravens were hit by pitches and one scored on a Cade Huffman single. Weatherford then struck out Nate Soto in for the final out, stranding the tying run on second base.

Weatherford ran into some traffic in the seventh inning. A leadoff walk and fielder’s choice brought Anardi to the plate, who punched a single to left field to bring the game to a one run game. With the tying run on second, Weatherford buckled down and recorded the next two outs to win the game.

“It’s insane. It feels great that my coaches trust me to put me in that situation,” Weatherford said.

The Lions now sit in second, one game in front of the Ravens with Thomas Jefferson left on the schedule. For Auburn Riverside, they take on Auburn, which is going to scratch and claw to get in the postseason.

Caleb Anardi attempts to score a run for the Ravens. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Caleb Anardi attempts to score a run for the Ravens. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Auburn Mountainview’s Jay Swanson in the box against the Ravens. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Auburn Mountainview’s Jay Swanson in the box against the Ravens. Ben Ray / The Reporter