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Auburn loses to Mercer Island in 3A state baseball game


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Auburn’s Connor Sloan throws his bat after being called out looking at a third strike in the top of the seventh inning of a State 3A playoff quarterfinal against Mercer Island on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Auburn High School in Auburn, Wash. Sloan was thrown out of the game for his reaction.

pcaster@thenewstribune.com

After opening-round baseball match-ups at Auburn High School, the Auburn Trojans and Mercer Island Islanders faced off Saturday to determine who would advance to the Class 3A state baseball tournament semifinals.

Both teams competed in early games, with the Islanders defeating Bainbridge 8-0 that morning and the Trojans defeating Bishop Blanchet in a nail biter, 7-6.

Auburn’s first game against Bishop Blanchet went to nine innings, with the Trojans winning in the bottom of the ninth to go to the quarterfinals.

After a hard fought battle, senior Ethan Smetheram described the energy after winning their first game of the day.

“I mean it was electric after the first game, it was pretty fun,” Smetheram said.

The celebration would not last long as the Trojans would have to bounce back and go against the Islanders 45 minutes after their win. Mercer Island won the game, 6-1.

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Auburn shortstop Ethan Smetheram attempts to turn a double play as he gets the force out at second base on Mercer Island’s Austin Cupic during the bottom of the fifth inning of a State 3A playoff quarterfinal on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Auburn High School in Auburn, Wash. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

With packed stands and a chance to reach state semifinals on the line, the energy of the game was electric.

Both teams got off to a strong defensive start, which resulted in the game remaining scoreless up until the third inning.

The Islanders would find momentum in the bottom of the third inning and never look back. With some big hits in the third inning, this resulted in them leading the Trojans 3-0.

The Trojans wouldn’t have an answer for the Islanders as they were unable to get a runner home in the fourth inning.

As Auburn struggled, Mercer Island kept the ball rolling as they racked up three more runs home in the bottom of the fourth.

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Mercer Island’s Jack Varney celebrates after hitting a sacrifice fly to score a run in the bottom of the fourth inning of a State 3A playoff quarterfinal against Auburn on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Auburn High School in Auburn, Wash. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

Islanders head coach Dominic Woody said the team followed the game plan they had all day.

“It was the same message we had all day, which is just continue to grind, continue to post at the plate, and be patient and wait for our opportunities to come and for us to take advantage of them. When you get into playoff baseball like this, obviously everyone is a quality opponent, everyone can play the game at a high level, so it’s really about being able to capitalize on the opportunities you get,” Woody said.

It was a tough batting game for the Trojans. They didn’t score until the seventh inning, but Trojans head coach Gordon Elliott said the team was determined to see the game through to the end.

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Auburn reliever Tanner Hanson attempts to field a ground ball up the middle during the bottom of the fifth inning of a State 3A playoff quarterfinal against Mercer Island on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Auburn High School in Auburn, Wash. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

“They’re never going to give up, we’re fighting down to the last out and that’s the way our guys are,” Elliott said.

The Islanders would go on to defeat the Trojans 6-1 and advance to the semifinals, where they will face off against West Seattle.

As this ends the season for Auburn baseball, it’s only the start for the team’s program. For Auburn, this was the first time in years that they got a chance to compete in the quarterfinals and they plan to use this season as a start for years to come.

The Trojans say goodbye to five seniors that laid a foundation for the program. The ending wasn’t what they imagined, but senior Tanner Hanson found meaning in it.

“Being united. It’s like the loyalty throughout, through each other. I truly believed in every single aspect of our games that all these boys could get it done and just being so close to every person…just like a big takeaway I feel is loyalty and brotherhood.”





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