LISBON — It was never Lisbon baseball coach Randy Ridley’s intention to have his whole infield with the name Austin, it just worked out that way.

And work out it has for a Greyhounds team that has made an underdog run all the way from the No. 6 seed to Tuesday’s Class C South regional final.

Lisbon has done it in part with a close-knit group — a family if you will. For three players on the team, it literally is a family affair.

As the seasons have gone by for Ryley Austin, so too has the amount of family members who have joined him on the team. He was the lone Austin family representative as a freshman, then cousin Nick came on last year for Ryley’s sophomore season. This year, Ryley’s younger brother Noah has made it three of a kind.

“It’s awesome, just to see the family just keep coming up and being on varsity and being part of the team,” Ryley said. “We all ride together to games. We’re all basically like best friends. We do everything.”

The elder Austin had already solidified his spot at shortstop and near the top of the batting lineup coming into this season. But his younger cousin and brother had no such promises from Ridley.

So Nick and Noah went out and earned their starting spots.

“Noah has stepped right into a role that I didn’t expect him to excel at. I expected him to be a spot starter here and there, helping out in different positions, but he stepped right up and started hitting the ball right out of the gates,” Ridley said. “I remember telling him the third game of the year, I said, ‘If you keep hitting the ball like that, it’s going to be hard for me to keep you out of the lineup,’ and he never let up.”

Nick Austin took a little longer to secure his starting spot, but he’s a regular in the lineup now heading into the regional final.

“With Little Nick, as I like to call him, I didn’t have him originally being a full-time starter at second base. He was going to be a spot starter when certain pitchers were on the mound,” Ridley said. “But he’s stepped up. He’s done wonderfully defensively. He hit the ball better than I ever expected him to this year.

“I think it was probably about halfway through the season, when I realized I just can’t keep them out of the lineup. We’re just a lot better with them in it. There was one time where I had Nick on the bench, and I had him pinch hit, and he just ripped a base hit into left-center, and I’m going ‘oh, he’s staying in the lineup from now on out.'”

Nick Austin normally occupies second base, right next to his older cousin. Noah’s spot changes game to game. When junior pitcher Tyler Halls is on the mound Noah Austin takes his spot in center field. But when Halls heads back to the outfield and freshman Lucas Francis takes the bump Noah moves over to third, pitting all three Austin family members in the Greyhounds’ infield.

“It’s really fun, especially playing in the infield with them when I play third base, It’s fun just throwing the ball around,” Noah said. “We all have a great time.”

Ridley said the chemistry is evident when all three Austins are in the infield.

“There’s a lot of nonverbal communication that goes along with those three because they’ve been playing ball together for so long. When they’re all three in the infield, I really see a big difference in how the infield is communicating,” Ridley said.

And just to make the skipper’s job just a little bit more difficult when calling out infielders’ names, the Greyhounds’ starting first baseman is senior Austin Fournier.

“Austin at first, he’s not an actual Austin, but he’s fun to play with,” Noah said.

But Ryley Austin said he does count Fournier as the unofficial fourth Austin.

“Even Tyler on the mound, growing up he was at our house 24/7,” Ryley said. “So basically our whole infield’s been together our whole life.”

Being close family members allows the Austins a comfort level when it comes to antics, which only helps lighten the mood for Lisbon.

“You don’t hear them give them a lot of credit to each other. Usually it’s in jest — ‘Oh yeah, you had to dive for that one. Oh yeah, make that one look harder than what it was,'” Ridley said. “But you can tell they truly are excited for each other when one makes a big play.”

Nick Austin said the biggest jokester of the three is “definitely” Ryley.

“Ryley’s always pulling pranks on me and Noah, doing stuff just to make us mad,” Nick said. “(Noah and I) just got to team up and try to get him back, but it doesn’t always work.”

That lighthearted brotherly love extends to the whole team, said Ridley. That has helped the Greyhounds weather storms throughout the season, including a rough first inning against St. Dom’s in the regional semifinals this past Saturday.

“It was a little scary the first inning, but I knew we’d eventually settle in and get something going,” Ryley said.

Noah Austin paced the Greyhounds’ offense in the later innings of that win, driving in one run with a double and scoring another after a lead-off single. But Ridley said it’s been a different Austin every game — including Fournier.

The Austins’ “dream season” (as Ryley called it) will include at least one more game on Tuesday, when the Greyhounds will be the lower seed for the third straight game against No. 4 Sacopee Valley.

Ridley said the close-knit family of his team, spawned by the Austins, will undoubtedly be a big part of Lisbon’s effort in the regional final.

“That will be a huge plus,” Ridley said. “Being so close together, and working so much together, not just on the field but when they go home they’re hanging out, they’re doing things together. So when things go bad they’ll be right next to each other, ‘hey, pick it up, worry about the next pitch.’ They’ll stay together through it, no matter what happens tomorrow.”

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