Published: January 31, 2013
The No. 4-ranked University of Tampa Spartans baseball team is set to begin the 2013 campaign by hosting the Bentley University Falcons in a three game series beginning Feb. 1.
UT alumnus and former New York Yankees World Series champion Tino Martinez ’11 will appear for ’90s Night festivities surrounding the 6 p.m. home opener at the Sam Bailey Baseball Field.
UT finished last season with a 38-10 record while finishing first in the Sunshine State Conference with an 18-6 record and winning its 14th SSC Championship. Four Spartans (Sean Bierman, Eric Grabe, Anthony Caronia, Ben O'Shea) were selected in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft. UT's season ended against the University of West Florida in the NCAA Division II Baseball South Regional, which was hosted by UT a year ago.
Bentley finished the 2012 season with a 28-23 record and a No. 4 finish in the Northeast-10 Conference.
The Spartans are 4-0 all-time against the Falcons, last beating them in 2012.
Martinez, who played for UT from 1987-1989, was a first round draft pick by Seattle and broke into the majors with the Mariners. He later played for the Yankees, where he appeared in four World Series and represented New York on the AL All-Star team, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays before retiring in 2005.
At UT, he played for the Spartans from 1986-1988 and hit over .400 as a sophomore and junior. He still ranks first in school history in home runs (54) and is second in RBI (222). He was also honored as a three-time All-American during his UT career.
Martinez will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday, then be available for photo opportunities with fans. As a grand prize, one lucky fan will win the chance to sit with Martinez for a couple of innings of UT's game with Bentley.
"We have a large enrollment of Yankees fans at UT," said Gil Swalls, associate athletic director. "Many of our students have fond memories of Tino and are looking forward to this opportunity to meet him. Coach Urso has also invited UT alumni players to join the celebration, so we expect a great crowd for opening night."
In addition to Martinez’s appearance, the UT Gaming Club will provide additional ’90s experiences with Nintendo and board games popular during the decade for fans to play during the evening.
Tickets will be available at the gate for $5 (adults) and $3 (children and senior citizens). UT students will be admitted for free with a valid student ID.
Live stats and a video webcast will be available through www.tampaspartans.tv.
Fans may follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter and Facebook. UT also offers blAst, a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com.
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