In the tight race for first place in the California Collegiate League’s North Division, the San Luis Obispo Blues grabbed a slight edge Tuesday on their home turf.
The Blues and Santa Paula Halos came into the game tied for the lead in the CCL’s North Division — each with a 12-7 record with Conejo (12-8) and Santa Barbara (11-8) in hot pursuit.
And San Luis Obispo (26-8 overall) pulled ahead with a 10-4 victory, helped by a nine-run sixth inning.
Cal Poly standout Jimmy Allen was 2 for 2 in the sixth inning alone with five RBI.
Allen’s rocket double with the bases loaded one-hopped the wall in left field and scored three to blow the game open as the Blues took a 10-2 lead.
“I was looking for a first-pitch fastball and got it,” Allen said. “I didn’t think he’d throw me something off-speed in that situation.”
Allen, who finished 2 for 4, said the double was his hardest-hit ball of the summer, and the third baseman has hit plenty of balls with pop, batting .429 after six games entering Tuesday’s contest.
Blues coach Chal Fanning said he’s a “big Jimmy Allen fan.”
“Going back to the days of watching him on the (SLO) Rattlers and at Cal Poly, I’ve always liked Jimmy Allen’s game,” Fanning said. “I know he had a little bit of a tough year defensively at Cal Poly from talking to (Mustangs head coach) Larry Lee. But he has been outstanding this summer. He has been really solid.”
Last week, Allen said that he’s leaning toward returning to Cal Poly instead of joining the Boston Red Sox organization after being drafted in the 23rd round last month. He repeated those sentiments Tuesday as the July 12 deadline for signing professionally approaches.
“I’m pretty sure I’m returning to Cal Poly,” Allen said.
The Blues started one of their most consistent pitchers Tuesday in TCU lefty Travis Evans.
Evans improved to 4-0, striking out four and allowing two runs in seven innings. Evans, who just finished his sophomore year at TCU, is undefeated in college as well with a 2-0 mark in 26 innings for the Horned Frogs.
Evans rolled through the first four innings, allowing three hits and no runs with a tailing fastball and a sweeping slider that frequently clipped the outside corner against right-handed batters. He also worked in his change-up.
“I felt good today,” Evans said. “I wanted to throw strikes, and I did a pretty good job of that today. I walked two, but I felt like I was locating pretty well.”
Entering the bottom of the sixth inning down 2-1, Allen’s broken-bat single over the shortstop’s head with runners on second and third gave the Blues a 3-2 lead.
San Luis Obispo shortstop Aaron Attaway and center fielder Cody Jones also had RBI hits in the sixth on the way to the rout.
“I liked the way we responded after this same team had a walk-off win (Monday) night,” Fanning said. “I credit them for being really scrappy especially for a first-year club. But it started with Travis Evans for us.
“He knew how important this game was. He really established a rhythm and got us going.”
Blues left fielder Mike Pritchard of Nebraska continued his hot streak with a two-out RBI line-drive single to left in the first inning for his 16th RBI of the season, ranking second on the team in RBI.