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AZTEC – Aztec High School varsity and alumni baseball players will take the field at C.V. Koogler Middle School Saturday to honor the life of one of their own.

T. Ryan Lane, Aztec attorney and Bloomfield city attorney, lost his childhood friend, Matthew Bardwell, to cancer in 1997 when the two were freshmen at Aztec High School.

To honor his childhood friend, Lane and Bardwell's family started the Matthew Bardwell Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2012. Each year, the fund helps graduating Aztec High seniors attend a post-secondary institution or trade school with scholarship awards.

For the third year in a row, the nonprofit fund will give away three $1,500 scholarships to three graduating Aztec High School seniors at the school's senior awards banquet next week.

Lane said the the annual baseball events have raised $15,000 that have been given to seniors to help defray the costs of college.

Thanks to the recent installation of lights at the varsity field, the game this year will be held in the evening, Lane said.

Before the game, players will participate in a home-run derby at 5 p.m., an addition that was introduced last year.

"I think our participation continues to grow, and the community really seems to really enjoy the event," Lane said.

Lane, who since December has been an assistant coach for the school's varsity team, said he will hit the field as part of the alumni team again this year.

"I help coach varsity, so I'll try to stick it to them Saturday," Lane joked. "We managed to pull out a win last year, but I don't imagine we'll be able to do it again this year. These old men just can't keep up with those young bucks."

Aztec Schools Superintendent Kirk Carpenter, who used to coach the Aztec Tigers baseball team, will return to coach the alumni team at the fundraiser this year.

Shawn Johnson was a close friend of Bardwell and is on the board of directors for the fund. He said he will trade a hat and glove for the microphone this year and announce the game. Johnson and his wife run a Farmington real estate management company, a career path he said was made possible by a college education.

"We're doing this to raise awareness and funds for Matt," Johnson said. "Matt and I probably played baseball for 10 years together. We played and got in trouble together. There didn't seem to be a lot of scholarships when I was graduating high school. There's definitely a need."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

If you go

What: Aztec High School alumni baseball game

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Varsity baseball field at C.V. Koogler Middle School, 455 N. Light Plant Road in Aztec

More info: Donations to the Matthew Bardwell Scholarship Fund can be made at the event or online at mbmsf.org

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