For the University of Miami Hurricanes baseball team, Friday’s opener is not just about a return to the diamond - but a return to what the team hopes is the normalcy of winning championships.
“I think we’re getting tired of beating up on each other,” head coach Gino DiMare said Tuesday. “Now, it’s time. It’s official and it’s here. It’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
What the ‘Canes have been waiting for starts when Miami opens the season with four games in three days against Towson. The Hurricanes aim to bounce back from a 33-21 record in 2021 which saw Miami get knocked out in the Gainesville Regional.
DiMare, a former outfielder and longtime assistant for the ‘Canes who has a combined 86-45 record in his first three seasons, knows that is unacceptable for a team who is used to winning national titles (four over a 20-year period from 1982 to 2001) and is the reason why his seat is getting warmer in Coral Gables.
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If Miami is going to get back to Omaha and the College World Series, it will be thanks in part to a youth movement. The ‘Canes enter the season with 12 freshman and 15 sophomores on the roster.
“We had a lot of rookies last year with the veterans and I think it carried over to this year, the consistency,” DiMare said. “We played very well at some points of last season and very bad at other points.”
The very well included opening last season with a series win over then-No. 1 ranked Florida and getting ACC series wins over Louisville, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Duke.
The very bad included getting swept on the road against Coastal Division foe Pittsburgh and at home against rival Florida State, who outscored Miami 34-2 in the three games played between the teams.
Miami will open 2022 with right-hander Alejandro Rosario on the mound Friday night. The second team freshman All-American last season, Rosario started 11 games and was the first freshman to start opening weekend for the ‘Canes since 2011.
“Even though Alejandro is only a second-year guy, in college baseball that’s big,” DiMare said. “He pitched a lot for us last year, so along with Carson (Palmquist) and Jake (Garland) starting for us, we knew that going into the season that was going to be the strength for our team.”
Miami opens the season with 10 straight games at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, including the annual series against the Gators. The ‘Canes will also welcome ACC foes North Carolina, Virginia and Notre Dame to South Florida while traveling to Tallahassee for the annual series with the Seminoles.
For DiMare, having baseball back with a capacity crowd is just what he wants.
“Our park is a great home field advantage. The Light has always been that way,” DiMare said. “I’m hoping the fact we haven’t had fans in quite some time and what’s going on with the MLB, I hope fans will come out. I’ve always said this: there’s no better ticket in the city of Miami.”