The rivalry between the San Luis Obispo Blues summer collegiate baseball team and their intracity counterpart Rattlers has taken on a new meaning this season.
This year, the games actually mean something.
For the first time since the Rattlers were formed in 2006, the two teams are competing in the California Collegiate League at the same time.
“It’s an intense rivalry,” Blues outfielder Mike Kindel said. “I already can feel like it’s getting pretty intense.”Kindel had two hits and scored the tying run in the seventh inning as the Blues beat the Rattlers 4-3 on Wednesday at SLO Stadium.
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Kindel came to the Blues from Kansas State, drawn out to California for the first time after teammates told him about the program. While baseball takes up the majority of his time — the Blues are in the process of playing 19 games in 19 days — he said he still finds time to enjoy the area.
“I’ve been to the beach almost every day,” Kindel joked.
In just the short time he’s been away from school, the landscape of college athletics has changed, including in the Big 12 Conference, where the Wildcats compete.
“I’ve just tried to ignore everything and just hope that the Big 12 stays together,” Kindel said.
While Colorado does not have a Division I baseball program, the loss of Nebraska, which has made three College World Series appearances in the past decade, is a big loss.
“It’s big because the Big 12 has tradition,” Kindel said. “We’d like everybody to stay, but that’s not the case.”
The Blues have now taken the first two of a three game “road” series with the Rattlers and lead the all-time series 7-5.
While in the past the wins might have meant nothing more than taking pride in being San Luis Obispo’s top team, for Blues head coach Chal Fanning it also means climbing the California Collegiate League standings.
“We’ve captured the road series part of things, now we have a real chance to really do something to get us back (into the league picture),” Fanning said. “We’ve got to play really well tomorrow, though, if we’re going to sweep. They’re going to come out with both guns blazing.”
The Blues (8-7, 7-5 CCL) have used the two wins over the Rattlers to move a game back of the MLB Academy Barons for the league lead.
The Rattlers, though, had a chance to even the series late.
Trailing by a run in the ninth, the Rattlers got runners on first and second with one out.
Former San Luis Obispo High standout Davey Schultz entered the game as a pinch runner at first base but was caught in a rundown after a throw to first by the catcher.
As Schultz headed for second, Nigel Morton, the Rattlers other base runner attempted to reach third but was tagged out.
“They looked like they were trying to run a double steal over there and weren’t on the same page and we were fortunate to get an out there,” Fanning said. “It was a little bit of a momentum killer.”