The North County Indians play all but two of their final 13 summer collegiate baseball games at home, which serves them well because they’re playing quite comfortably of late on their turf.
The Indians (20-8) have won five of their past six games at Vineyard Athletic Park, including a 4-0 victory over the Bakersfield Braves on Friday night.
They were led by starter Slater Lee, who recorded nine strikeouts and walked none in six scoreless innings to help the Indians to a combined shutout with Alex Fagalde and Louie Carlos finishing it off in relief.
San Luis Obispo High graduate Sinjin Todd sparked the offense for North County, going 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI. He was the only Indians player with more than one hit.
Todd was one of San Luis Obispo’s top hitters for his high school squad, finishing with a .314 average in his senior campaign.
Batting in the No. 2 slot Friday, Todd picked up where he left off with the Tigers as a slap hitter in the top part of the order.
Todd knocked in leadoff hitter Kevin Morgan twice Friday, once with a line-drive double to left in the third and then on another liner to left for a single in the fifth.
Todd said he’ll play baseball at Cal Lutheran next year.
“They were throwing me away, so I basically just went the other way on both of my hits,” Todd said. “ … This is a good opportunity for me to get ready to start at Cal Lu.”
Lee entered Friday’s game with a team-leading 0.43 earned run average in 21 innings.
Lee, now 3-0, has 22 strikeouts this summer.
He struck out the side in the sixth inning, working his pitches inside and out nicely, and then blowing his fastball past hitters when needed.
“I think Cal Poly has a real gem in Slater Lee,” Indians coach Dan Marple said. “It will be fun to see him over the next three to four years. He has the body to throw hard and he has a quick, downward breaking curveball. He’s going to be a very good pitcher in college.”
Morgan, who also will play at Cal Poly next year, scored three runs.
He walked three times, and then smacked a standup triple in the fifth. Morgan was 1 for 1 and had two stolen bases.
In the top of the fifth inning, with a Braves runner on second, Morgan sprinted back in left-center on two consecutive plays to snag balls over his head for the second and third outs.
“I thought those two plays were very key for us in the game,” Marple said. “Kevin did a good job on those balls to help us get our second shutout of the summer.”
The Indians caught a break in the first inning when right fielder Peter Lecce’s groundball scooted under the glove of the Braves’ shortstop and into left field. Morgan scored from second for a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Morgan crushed a low 3-1 fastball to the gap in right, skipping it to the wall for his triple.
Morgan scored shortly thereafter for the third time on Todd’s second RBI hit of the game to go up
Mac Stuart, a Paso Robles High grad and Cuesta College player, knocked a soft liner to center for ana RBI single and a 4-0 lead for some insurance later in the fifth.
Despite Morgan’s heroics in left field, the Indians had five errors.
“I thought our pitching really took over today,” Marple said. “Our plays in the infield need to get better, though. We have to back our pitchers up and field ground balls.
The Indians host the Braves again today at 7 p.m. at Vineyard Athletic Park.