Final ASU baseball alumni game at Packard Stadium set for Saturday

Packard Stadium is entering its final season in 2014, which means everything done this year will happen for the last time at that yard.

The season starts Feb. 14, but the first of the last times this year will be the alumni game Saturday.

“It’s fun to see all the old Sun Devils, see the legacy they left before us and and get a chance to prove ourselves against them,” sophomore starting pitcher Ryan Burr said.

 
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The alumni game has a special meaning for coach Tim Esmay.

Esmay grew up a fan of ASU baseball, played for the team and is now the head coach.

“I just love being around the guys,” Esmay said. “I love talking to them. It is a fun weekend. There’s not too many like it in college baseball just because of who we are, our tradition, our legacy and the great players that have come through here.”

Among others scheduled to appear are pitchers Trevor Williams and Matt Dunbar, infielder James McDonald, outfielder Kasey Coffman and catcher Max Rossiter, who all played for ASU last season.

One current big leaguer tweeted he would be there: Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake. He was drafted in the first round (eighth overall) by Cincinnati after his junior season in 2009. He was named National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2009.

“It’s always fun now that I’ve coached enough, that the guys that are just out, it’s like they’ve got freedom to come back and they can rag me and yell at me and have a good time with me,” Esmay said.

Esmay coached them last year, but the players also played with some current Sun Devils. Junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz said he can’t wait to get a shot and some old teammates.

“A couple of my teammates are actually in the starting rotation that I played with here my freshman and sophomore year,” Stankiewicz said. “They’ve been talking smack to me, and I’ve been talking smack to them, so it should be fun.”

The game is free to the public and first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Packard Stadium in Tempe.

And fans won’t just get to see players who graduated recently.

“It’s the last (alumni) game at Packard,” Esmay said. “So you might see coach (Mike) Benjamin and I go out there.”

Reach the reporter at justin.emerson@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson