The San Luis Obispo Blues displayed their best offensive showing of the summer collegiate baseball season Friday with a 24-4 victory over the Santa Maria Packers at SLO Stadium.
Seven Blues (28-8) had multi-hit games as they racked up 24 total hits in a commanding win in the second round of the Rawlings Cup tournament.
The most runs the Blues scored in a game previously this season was 16 against the Cal Poly club team in their season opener.
Two more victories in the tournament would give the Blues an automatic berth in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., later this summer.
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Blues center fielder Kyle Johnson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Purdue, went 5 for 5 against the Packers with three RBI, and second baseman Will Maddox added a two-run home run and four RBI in the rout.
“Early in the game, I thought we were really aggressive at the plate,” Johnson said. “We jumped on their strikes and pretty much hit anything over the plate.”
The Blues host the Menlo Park Legends at 4 p.m. today in the final contest of their round-robin bracket for a chance at the tournament’s championship game Sunday in Santa Barbara. Menlo Park also is 2-0 in the San Luis Obispo bracket, making the Legends the only other undefeated team.
If they can advance, the Blues would play the winner of Santa Barbara’s round-robin bracket Sunday.
“To my knowledge, we haven’t won this tournament before,” Blues coach Chal Fanning said. “It would say a lot about this group of kids if we could do it, and what they’ve accomplished so far with our season.”
San Luis Obispo exploded for nine runs in the second inning, five in the fourth and seven in the fifth against Santa Maria.
In the second, first baseman Nick Flair of Mississippi State had a bases-clearing triple. Flair, who played on the Blues last year, went 2 for 3 with three RBI.
Mike Pritchard of Nebraska, who entered batting a team-leading .398, also smashed a triple in the second, knocking in two more on the way to his 3-for-4 day.
Maddox, a junior at Tennessee, drilled his line-drive homer off the right-field foul pole in the fourth inning. Maddox said he turned on an inside fastball.
“I pretty much knew it was out if it stayed fair,” Maddox said. “It stayed fair just by a little. In a game like this, there are always things to work on, and I was just working on putting good swings on the ball every time up.”
Former Nipomo High standout Marc Baker, who pitched at Allan Hancock College last season, started for Santa Maria. He allowed nine runs, eight of them earned, in the second inning and ended his night after only 1 2⁄3 innings, taking the loss.
Cal Poly’s Bryan Granger started for the Blues. He pitched two scoreless innings but allowed four in the third before coming out. A string of San Luis Obispo relievers held the Packers scoreless in the next six innings.
Blues catcher Daniel Garner of Mississippi State went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBI.
“We’re just going to have to take some of the good feelings from this game and bring them with us to (today),” Fanning said. “It’s a new day, but we can kind of bring this with us into (today).”