Tears filled the Miami clubhouse.
For the second consecutive year, the Hurricanes missed out on the postseason, bringing legendary coach Jim Morris’ career to a close.
After Ron Fraser and Morris combined to lead Miami to four national championships and 25 trips to the College World Series, longtime assistant coach Gino DiMare has been bestowed the responsibility of taking the Hurricanes back to Omaha.
“My dream was to play here and it wasn’t in my wildest dreams to think I would coach here, but after coaching for a long period of time I knew it was a possibility,” DiMare said. “Everything is going 100 miles per hour. I probably need to learn how to slow it down a little bit, but we need a little adrenaline boost in the program anyways so it’s a good thing.”
Miami finished 28-26 last year and 31-27 in 2017 after making the playoffs for 44 consecutive seasons—the longest streak in any college sport in history.
However, with a new skipper and renewed mindset, UM is poised to start a new postseason run.
“Obviously, what has happened the last couple years is not the standard,” sophomore pitcher Chris McMahon said. “We have a group of young kids with a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. The atmosphere, the chemistry in that locker room is a lot better.”
The Hurricanes will rely on a pitching staff with plenty of experience, led by 2018 All-ACC Third Team selection Evan McKendry.
The right-handed pitcher finished with a 3.52 ERA and became the first Miami hurler since Bryan Radziewksi in 2014 with 100 strikeouts in a season.
McKendry, McMahon and junior Greg Veliz will likely form Miami’s weekend rotation with standout freshman Slade Cecconi—who ranks No. 2 among impact freshman in the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to D1Baseball.com, assuming the midweek spot.
“Our starting pitching is our strength, no doubt” DiMare said. “But if we can find a way to score some runs, which has been our bug-a-boo the last two years, we’ll win our share of games.”
The Hurricanes batted .257 and scored just 4.8 runs per game a season ago, which ranked 11th and 13th, respectively, in the conference.
2018 Freshman All-American Freddy Zamora was one of the lone bright spots. Zamora hit .303 with 28 RBIs and was the lone Cane to start all 54 games.
Miami also brings back heralded high school prospect Alex Toral, who struggled in his freshman campaign. The first baseman batted just .161 with only one home run and 11 RBIs in 33 games.
Several other key returnees in the lineup include catcher Michael Amditis, who was limited to just 24 games because of a hand injury, and infielder Willy Escala.
Additionally, the Hurricanes welcome the 10th-ranked recruiting class, according to Baseball America.
Cecconi, two-way player J.P. Gates and catcher Adrian Del Castillo headline the freshman class.
“J.P. Gates is going to get the opportunity to be the closer. He’s a very tough freshman,” DiMare said. “Del Castillo swings the bat as well as anybody we’ve had here in a while as a freshman.
The 2019 Hurricanes have 32 players on the roster with just seven juniors and zero seniors. Despite having a young team, the Hurricanes still have their sights set on making it to the CWS.
“The goal is always Omaha,” Zamora said. “This program is known for getting to Omaha and winning championships, so every day on the field that’s our mindset.”
Miami will begin its road to the CWS against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
“We might not be the best team in the country opening weekend against Rutgers, we’d like to be, but we have to be the best team come May, come June,” McMahon said.”