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San Diego College Baseball : 134 SDSU Alumni Players Turn Out for Doubleheader

San Diego State had 134 alumni baseball players come out to Smith Field Sunday to participate in the annual SDSU Baseball Alumni doubleheader.

Players came out for their love of the game, to see old friends and, in a sense, in tribute to 16-year SDSU Coach Jim Dietz.

“To me this is important,” Tony Gwynn of the Padres said. “A lot of the things I learned here have carried over to professional baseball.”

Gwynn, who went 1 for 2 to raise his alumni game average to .143 (2 for 14), including a 410-foot home run out off Aztec junior Doug Royalty, was talking about more than sports.

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“If it wasn’t for Coach Dietz, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Gwynn said. “If you work hard, you can be successful. That’s the biggest thing he taught me.”

Some players came from as far away as Seattle (Al Weymiller, class of 1958) and Houston.

“Dave Smith and Chris Jones took the red-eye (flight) in from Houston,” Dietz said, “just to come out and say ‘Hi.’ ”

And there were others--such minor league players as the Dodgers’ Phil Torres and Chris Gwynn, the Cubs’ Mark Grace and Steve Hill, the Royals’ Terry Jones and the Red Sox’s Chris Cannizzaro--who participated.

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Bob Imlay (class of 1960) pitched a shutout inning in the first game, a 7-5 win by the junior varsity over a group of old-timers. And Bob Cluck (class of 1967) started his 20th consecutive alumni game.

Despite all the big names on the alumni team, it was the varsity that won, 16-4, as sophomore Harry Henderson batted in three runs and sophomore Nikco Riesgo knocked in two. No alumni player had more than one hit. Paul Wirkus had two RBIs and the Gwynn brothers each got an RBI with back-to-back doubles in the third.

Dietz said that what pleased him the most was that, of the 134 players, 91 had earned their degrees and others were working on theirs. “That pleases me more than anything,” he said.

U.S. International University 8, Pacific 7--Pinch-runner Ron Howard scored the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning on a wild pitch by Chris Scott as USIU swept a season-opening three-game series at home.

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