Newport High School alumnus Ethan Paul reached the absolute pinnacle in the world of Division-1 college baseball on June 26.
Paul, who was a member of the Vanderbilt University men’s baseball program, was part of a squad that won the NCAA College World Series title, courtesy of an 8-2 victory against the University of Michigan in the third and final game of the series on June 26 in Omaha, Nebraska. Michigan won the first game of the series, 7-4, on June 24 and Vanderbilt set up the championship game with a 4-1 win on June 25.
The senior shortstop knocked two hits for one RBI and scored one run in the final game of his college career. Vanderbilt finished its season with a 59-12 record.
Newport head coach Brad Files, who coached Paul from 2012 through 2015, was thrilled to see Paul reach the proverbial mountaintop on the baseball diamond.
“That was a dream of a lifetime for us. Everyone involved with the Newport baseball program was totally into it. It couldn’t get any better than that. I love pro baseball but for me college baseball is the epitome of what we are trying to do with these guys. It was such a thrill,” Files explained.
Files said Paul is the second player in the history of the Newport High School baseball program to win an NCAA championship. Ron Romanick was part of the Arizona State University baseball team that won a College World Series in 1981. Files said Paul’s diligent mindset has paved a pathway to success.
“It is not like he comes from a great athletic lineage. Ethan has been on a mission since he was 13 or 14 years old. The best guys I have ever coached all have the same things in common. Practice is not a chore. They love it and they are (batting) cage rats and their mindset to get better is just incredible. If you know Ethan as long as I have, you know this is just the beginning,” Files said of Paul.
“To make it as far as he has is a hell of an effort and is just really cool to watch. We are more than proud. Newport baseball alumni from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s have been posting about how they couldn’t be happier for Ethan. It doesn’t get cooler than that. When someone who played Newport baseball in the 1970s says ‘way to go Ethan,’ that will tell you something.”
Files bemoaned the fact the Knights weren’t able to win a state title during Paul’s high school career.
“I still lose sleep every night that we didn’t win a state title. Every team he is on is going to battle for a championship, which is just incredible. He is a winner and a great kid. He is mature beyond his years. It’s an incredible story. It really is,” Files said.