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Holy Spirit, Atlantic City baseball alumni come together at Sandcastle to rekindle past rivalries

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By GIUSEPPE UNGARO Managing Editor Several generations of Atlantic City and Holy Spirit high school baseball alumni met on the diamond at The Sandcastle in Atlantic City on Saturday. The participants — some only a few years removed from graduation while others haven’t buttoned up a high school jersey in decades — relived their playing days, once again meeting up against their rivals. Alumni games are not a new creation, but most programs play among each other. However, Atlantic City coach Brent Bean and Holy Spirit skipper Steve Normane decided last offseason to bring the rivals together to celebrate the past and present while also keeping the rivalry alive for future generations. Mike Buccafurni, currently an assistant coach with Holy Spirit, donned his Atlantic City gear for Saturday's alumni game between graduates from both schools. (Photos courtesy of Jenn Hopkins) Mike Buccafurni, currently an assistant coach with Holy Spirit, donned his Atlantic City gear for Saturday’s alumni game between graduates from both schools. (Photos courtesy of Jenn Hopkins) “This is great for both programs, not only mine, but Steve’s as well,” Bean said. “You get a connection back with the alumni. You get them to come out here to have a game, and hopefully we can make it bigger and better for years to come.” “I was thrilled,” Normane said. “It was great to see these guys play against guys they have grown up with and are still friends with and some still work with. It was nice to see. It’s a great venue here. It was a great game, and it was a great day. Our guys had fun, and it only helps our program. The more the alumni connect with the team, the more they care. It helps everybody out. It’s a good thing.” On what started out as a foggy morning, playing on a muddy field, the final score wasn’t all that important, however, for those who do care, the Spartans outlasted the Vikings, 6-3 in what both programs hope was the first installment of what will become a long-lasting tradition. There were some bad throws, missed grounders and dropped fly balls, which is expected from players who haven’t played in years, but players from both sides showed off their skills once the rust was knocked off. There were speared hard-hit liners, balls chased down in the gap, stolen bases and an outfield assist in the spirited contest. The current Vikings and Spartans got a kick out of watching the alumni play, including coaches from both sides playing for the other side. “It’s fun just to get to know the older people that used to go to Atlantic City High,” Vikings junior Usiel Marmolejos said. “It’s fun seeing people from both schools,” Holy Spirt senior Chris Lefferts said. “We have some coaches who played there, they are playing for A.C., and it’s fun to see them play against a team they are coaching for.” Stash, left, and Bernie Marczyk, Holy Spirit graduates from the 1980s, were named the MVPs of the Alumni game held at Sandcastle Stadium this past Saturday. Stash, left, and Bernie Marczyk, Holy Spirit graduates, were named the MVPs of the Alumni game held at Sandcastle Stadium this past Saturday. Holy Spirit coaches Mike Buccafurni, Pat Mullin and Bob Soifer were wearing the Blue and White of the Vikings while Atlantic City coach Joe Costello was playing for the Spartans. “It was hard when I had to put that Holy Spirit uniform on for the first time, but being around the guys and the family atmosphere, made it a lot easier,” said Buccafurni. “It was neat to come back and put the Atlantic City stuff on again and play against and with some friends.” “I got to see some alumni I coached previously and a couple guys I used to play with,” Costello said. “It was a lot of fun.” Stash Marczyk, who was a senior on Spirit’s last state championship team in 1982, and Bernie Marczyk, class of 1996,  shared the first-ever Alumni Game MVP trophy. “It was a great time, getting to meet some young alums I never met before, and it’s always nice to top the Vikings, too,” said Bernie. The rivalry lives on. Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: gungaro@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu [adsense]

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