San Diego wins Invitational slugfest

San Diego wins Invitational slugfest

COMPTON, Calif. -- It was quite the festive atmosphere on Saturday for Day 2 of the Urban Invitational at MLB's Urban Youth Academy.

The Bethune-Cookman University marching band provided extra entertainment by playing in the stands, and the energy seemed to carry onto the field in a high-scoring and exciting game between Bethune-Cookman and San Diego.

And even though it was Bethune-Cookman's band creating the buzz off the field, it was the San Diego Toreros who held on for a thrilling 9-6 win, their second victory in the Urban Invitational.

"It was an awesome atmosphere," San Diego head coach Rich Hill said. "I can't remember a better atmosphere in my 22 years as a coach. My son's a trumpet player, so I'm a band dad. I'm into this stuff."

San Diego, which is ranked No. 11 by Baseball America, jumped on Bethune-Cookman with seven runs in the first four innings, including home runs in the fourth inning by center fielder Kevin Muno and third baseman Victor Sanchez.

"The offense did a great job," Hill said. "Offensively, we've really came to play this early in the year."

San Diego starter Kyle Blair suffered from control problems, as he hit four batters and walked two more in five innings of work. He allowed just one hit in the first three innings, but allowed five runs in the fourth as the Wildcats got within one run of the Toreros.

"Our team kept fighting, and we got back into to the ballgame," Bethune-Cookman head coach Mervyl Melendez said. "But the bottom line is we've got to make quality pitches. You've got to give their hitters credit for hitting those mistakes."

San Diego added two insurance runs in the eighth, and right-hander Matt Thompson earned the save by pitching four scoreless innings in relief.

It was third game of the five-game tournament at the Academy that spotlights historically black colleges and universities such as Bethune-Cookman and Southern (of Baton Rouge, La.).

It helps give the schools national exposure.

Saturday also featured a battle of the bands between three local high schools -- Compton, Crenshaw and Jordan -- with the students also getting a chance to interact with the band members from Bethune-Cookman and Southern.

"The kids were very excited," said Compton band director Roy Thomas. "They loved every bit of it. And they had almost like a seminar with the college bands."

The high school students were also treated to a college fair, with admissions counselors from several colleges setting up information booths.

"I think the coolest thing for me is seeing the kids at the college fair afterwards," said Jordan band director Damian Graham. "There was such a diversity of schools, and they could physically see their college choices."

The Bethune-Cookman "Marching Wildcats" and Southern's "Human Jukebox" entertained the crowd after the game with a college battle of the bands.

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.