Riley Bartell Contributing Writer
During the recent alumni baseball game at Hippach Field, UMF’s Derek Bowen capped off an afternoon of competitive camaraderie when he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Bowen, who came to the plate with the bases loaded, hit a sacrifice fly to break a 6-6 tie in a tightly contested game, giving UMF the 7-6 victory over the alumni squad.
The alumni game’s atmosphere differs from regular season games, according to Christopher Bessey, UMF’s baseball coach, who enjoys the banter between his current squad and alumni players.
“Both teams still play hard, but there’s a lot of laughter and a bit of joking around,” said Bessey, “It’s a great experience for both sides, and their competitiveness really comes out.”
“Current players get to see past players,” he added, “They want to compete when they get to be alumni. Then when they get to be alumni, they want to come back and compete.”
Since baseball is a spring sport, the alumni game is one of the highlights of the team’s short fall season. “Obviously the fall is evaluation time for us,” said Bessey. “It gets our guys into a competitive environment. You can see how they compete. The alumni, for the most part, are still in pretty good athletic shape so they can be good competition against us.”
Playing in his fourth alumni game, Gavin Arsenault, senior, always looks forward to that weekend. “It’s good to see all the previous players,” said Arsenault. “Even the players I didn’t play with, it’s nice to interact with them and see how their lives are going.”
The game generally draws a sizable crowd. “A lot of people show up, and it’s good for the first year players. It gets them some experience in game situations,” said Arsenault.
The alumni game is held on Family and Friends’ Weekend at UMF, so it always draws a good crowd. The alums were asked for donations for Captain Bell and the firefighters who were involved in the LEAP explosion as well as others who are homeless because of the explosion.
“The athletic department, including baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and rugby teams, decided as a staff that we were going to accept donations,” said Bessey. “Four different organizations are raising money, not only for the firefighters, but also for those who are homeless because of the explosion.” In all, the athletic department raised over $900 that day.
After a close contest, the UMF baseball team ended up beating the alums in the bottom of the 9th, due to a walkoff hit.