For summer collegiate baseball teams, the prestige of competing for a national championship also comes with a cost.
The financial realities of traveling to compete in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., forced the San Luis Obispo Blues to turn down berths to the national tournament each of the past two seasons.
Watching the rival Santa Barbara Foresters, who shared the California Collegiate League title with the Blues in 2011, win the championship was a pill bitter enough to help inspire change.
“Last year, a lot of our kids were disappointed we didn’t go,” Blues manager Chal Fanning said, “especially after Santa Barbara won the whole thing. So, we made the commitment this year, and we need to continue to fundraise.”
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The Blues learned of their invitation Friday, and after Saturday’s 5-4 road victory over the Conejo Oaks at Cal Lutheran, they have seven more home games at SLO Stadium to make it happen.
Fanning said the franchise is putting an emphasis on selling $25 raffle tickets at the remaining regular-season games, needing that revenue to help the team make its sixth trip to Wichita and first since 2006.
An iPod nano and a stay at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach have already been won as nightly prizes in the raffle. The overall winner at the end of the season will take 10 percent of the total pot. Anyone interested in making donations or corporate sponsorships can contact fundraising coordinator Michele Fanning at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the final road game of the season, the Blues fell behind 2-0 before scoring single-run rallies in the third, fourth and fifth innings. They broke a 3-3 tie with two runs in the seventh, and three relievers combined to allow only one Conejo hit over the final 3 1⁄3 innings.
Starter Dylan Munger got the win in perhaps his final game with the Blues. Fanning said Munger left the team to attend the funeral of a family friend after the game.
Former Mission Prep and Cuesta College standout Alex Detz was the lone Blues player with multiple hits, going 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
San Luis Obispo Rattlers 5, San Francisco Seals 0
Starting pitcher David Hart needed only 85 pitches to complete the shutout, and Scott Shields drove in two runs for the Rattlers (33-15).
Hart allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out two, and the defense erased four of those baserunners on double plays. The UC San Diego-bound pitcher nearly made it two straight complete games.
“A week ago, in his last start, he went eight innings and wanted to complete the game,” Rattlers manager Aaron Levin said, “and we went with someone else just to get some work. So, he had earned it.
“He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, had great command and got a lot of ground balls.”
Shields, a Cuesta College player out of San Luis Obispo High, was 2 for 3, and Rattlers catcher Brian Brademan was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
North County Indians 6, SoCal Halos 3; Halos 6, Indians 1 (7 innings)
The North County Indians completed their inaugural season playing at the Vineyard Athletic Complex with a doubleheader split and vowing to return next season.
“I think we got a good foothold in the North County,” said Indians manager Dan Marple, who rattled off the list of names of players with local ties. “I think the response from the community has been positive. We were truly North County, and I think the community appreciated that. Being 24-7 couldn’t have hurt either.”
In the first game, the Indians took their first lead with a four-run rally in the seventh inning. Mac Stuart was 2 for 3 with two runs, Brian Mundell was 1 for 3 with a double, and Tanner Thompson, who homered in the second game, had two crucial sacrifices.
In the second game, Halos pitcher Allen Gwynn homered and pitched complete game, allowing only six hits.