Baseball: Auburn Riverside’s Will Sims shines in league finale

Ravens defeat Trojans, ending their playoff hopes for the 2024 season.

On a night that meant a lot to many involved, the Auburn Riverside Ravens baseball team crushed the postseason dreams of their cross-town rival Auburn Trojans. The Trojans had to win against the Ravens to keep their season alive, and then some. But Auburn Riverside nullified any hope of the playoffs in a 12-2 victory over Auburn High School on May 1.

The Ravens closed the season out strong, winning six of their last eight games and the two-game sweep over Auburn.

The story of the game was Ravens’ starting pitcher and senior Will Sims. Sims is a story that everyone can get behind. He was a three-year JV player. He put in the time. Put his head down and went to work. All that dedication has finally paid off, and he has been nails on the mound for skipper Brad Comstock the last week of the season.

“He was good tonight… He’s been really hot the last week and a half,” Comstock said. “He’s a kid that just works his butt off. He bided his time on JV and now he’s here, just happy for the opportunity.”

In the 12-2 win, Sims pitched all six innings, giving up seven hits, two earned runs and striking out two batters on just 71 pitches. Over his last four appearances, he’s thrown 12.2 innings, given up eight hits, struck out 12 batters and has an ERA of 1.42 since April 19.

“I got nothing to lose. Just come here throw strikes and have fun,” Sims said of his mentality over the past two weeks.

On his senior night, it felt like there was no one more deserving of a night like that than Sims.

“It meant a lot. The last three years I faced a lot of adversity. This year I had to prove to myself that I could compete with the guys. It felt great to come out here on senior night and shove against a rival,” Sims said.

The Ravens’ offense has also been clicking over the last six games. The Ravens have averaged just over 12 runs a game over that stretch (12.16). That’s their highest of the season over any six-game stretch. That type of production is crucial for not only the pitchers’ mentality, but the team overall. They say hitting is contagious and at this time of year, they’ll take it.

“We’ve been preaching for the last month,. We just have to put the ball in play. Had to cut down the strikeouts. We were averaging nine a game, which was just too many. Tonight we had 14 hits and 3 strikeouts, put the ball in play,” Comstock said.

Some standouts at the plate for the Ravens in the 10-run victory were Andre Muneton (3-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R) and Andrew Shrader (1-2, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB). Overall, five different Ravens recorded multi-hit games, and three different Ravens had two RBIs. The runs were spread out pretty thin among the 11 different Raven batters — just Shrader and Nate Soto scored more than one time (2 each).

“This is what we should have been doing all season. This is the team we can be,” Sims said.

On the Auburn side, just CJ Baxter had more than one hit in the game (2-3, 2B, RBI). With the loss to Riverside, the Trojans’ season closed out in brutality. Auburn finished the season 2-8 over their last 10 games, with the two wins coming against Kent-Meridian. Auburn had just one win over a team above .500 and it was against Thomas Jefferson back on March 26.

The Ravens have secured a playoff spot and are the third seed coming out of the NPSL, taking on Evergreen at home on May 7. “We’ve been talking about it all year. This is our year to make a run,” said Sims.

CJ Baxter got the start for the Trojans at Auburn Riverside. Ben Ray / The Reporter

CJ Baxter got the start for the Trojans at Auburn Riverside. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Andre Muneton makes a throw to first base. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Andre Muneton makes a throw to first base. Ben Ray / The Reporter