Miami’s annual Alumni Game signals the return of baseball in Coral Gables.
On went the light towers, a dynamic new scoreboard illuminated deep shades of orange and green and fans took Mark Light Field seats after a wait of over 8 ½ months.
A long journey awaits Miami baseball for a trip back to the College World Series, but the program began 2022 with a 13-0 victory over the alumni team on Saturday night.
“The best part about it is these guys come back,” Miami head coach DiMare said. “I had juices flowing more than I have had really all fall and spring because we’re playing somebody outside, you have a crowd, the announcer and the scoreboard is going. All in all, I was happy.”
Dressed in white alumni t-shirts and all-white pants, dozens of former Hurricane greats filed along the third baseline for homecoming announcements delivered by Mark Light Field’s longtime public address announcer Jay Rokeach. A swift breeze blanketed Alex Rodriguez Park on a 78-degree evening.
Alumni-hosting Miami, which finished a ½ game behind Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal champion Georgia Tech last season, relied on sophomore Carson Palmquist for a one-hit shutout through five innings. The Preseason All-American helped guide UM to the fourth-lowest ERA in the conference in 2021.
Palmquist cruised for eight strikeouts, with the reigning All-ACC pitcher’s sole hit allowed to former Hurricanes third baseman Romy Gonzalez of the Chicago White Sox in the fourth. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Walters later replaced Palmquist.
“I was just competing and having fun, knowing a lot of the guys on the other team. “I went out there and made my pitches and attacked all the hitters,” Palmquist said. “It was awesome watching those guys come in at the end and show what they’ve been doing all fall in scrimmages and practice. It’s fun to see it all come to light and see other guys having success too.”
The Hurricanes found an immediate spark at the plate. An RBI hit down the right field line from junior outfielder Mike Rosario and a fielder’s choice established an early 2-0 lead in the opening frame. Sophomore first baseman CJ Kayfus’ RBI groundout in the second pushed Miami ahead of the alumni 4-0.
A hitting-heavy fourth for the home squad succeeded an empty third. A sacrifice fly began a five-run inning. Eight different Hurricanes collected a hit by the end of the fourth amidst an eventual 8-0 Canes lead.
Florida International University transfer Alejandro Torres served as the Canes’ third arm, lifting Walters following a hitless sixth. Junior Anthony Arguelles and freshman Rafe Schlesinger combined in the late innings to hold the alumni at one hit through the game.
Recent Hurricane stars Adrian and Christian Del Castillo, brothers who started all 54 Hurricanes contests in 2021, returned to the Mark Light turf alongside Willie Abreu, a sixth-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, and Miami native Edgar Michelangeli. Two-time national champion coach Jim Morris, a four-time ACC Coach of the Year who retired from UM in 2018, also made a guest appearance.
Miami is set to open its season Friday at home against Towson in a four-game series. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.