Feb. 9, 2013
Highlanders 6 – Alumni  3

UC Riverside baseball held it’s annual alumni game Feb. 9 at the Riverside Sports Complex, beating the alumni squad 6-3. The Highlanders used a myriad of pitchers, who at times seemed to lack control, but never wavered in their efforts to stymie the alumni offense.

The alumni badgered the Highlanders all game long. The Highlanders managed to push runs across the board on two RBI hits by Bart Steponovich and an RBI double by third baseman Nick Vilter. Eddie Young also contributed to the cause when he laced a double to left field in his second at-bat of the game to continue the Highlander dominance.

The Highlander alumni team lacked some of its more prominent individuals like Mark Rzepczynki and Joe Kelly, who both attended the event in the past but were unable to attend due to spring training. Even so, UC Riverside alumni Eric Richter and Ryan Getz attended the event.  Getz acted as the leadoff man while Richter cheered from the dugout. The Riverside alumni dugout proved to be a colorful bunch, commenting and making jokes with the Highlander team as the game wore on.

The alumni team kept the game close for the majority of the game, scoring runs on passed balls and used fresh arms to keep the young Highlander bats at bay. But their rust began to show as errors by their infield and passed balls behind their catcher all contributed to UCR runs. The offense of the alumni grew stagnant in the middle innings as Riverside’s offense proved too strong this year.

The game marked the first appearance this season of the diamond girls, who help support and promote UCR baseball.  Fans who go to the games have a chance to sing, dance and possibly win prizes if selected by a diamond girl. Fans also get to experience the new patio down the right field line near the snack bar.

The alumni game provided current Highlanders with a look into the team’s veteran leadership and the ability to compete in the Big West conference. Many alumni seemed excited with the prospect of watching the team play this season with many returning players to anchor the squad’s lineup. Eric Young and Bart Steponovich will be big parts of the offense, with Young’s speed and versatility at the top of lineup and Steponovich’s advanced bat at the bottom of the line up.

The game was an opportunity for both players to showcase their talents. Young demonstrated his speed when he advanced two bases on an error. Steponovich plated two runs on hard singles into centerfield to fuel the Highlander offense. These two seemed to overmatch the alumni squad during the friendly yet competitive game.

The Highlanders start their season Friday, Feb. 15 in Palm Springs. They will participate in the Palm Springs Baseball Tournament hosted by Oregon State.