A season of baseball in the Atlantic Coast Conference is hardly a stress-free endeavor. Still, as fans filled up the stands at Mark Light Field for the annual Alumni Game on Saturday night, you couldn’t find a soul that was unhappy.
“Fan Fest and the Alumni Game is always a fun, fun event,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “It’s a great treat to have some great players from all different eras get introduced.”
It was all smiles around the ballpark as the Hurricanes defeated the Alumni 11-3, starting and ending the 2023 preseason with a win.
“It means a lot. We had some pro guys play all nine innings, which to me is really, really impressive. I can’t thank them enough,” DiMare said. “Quite a few of them played the whole game and that’s really nice of them. It means a lot to me and our program.”
In total, 70 alumni showed up to Coral Gables to either watch or participate in the game.
As the contest got underway, it was a slow start for both teams. Keeping the older squad in the game, the Alumni pitching staff combination of Frankie Bartow and Greg Veliz mostly kept the ‘Canes offense in check. The first run was not scored until the bottom of the third inning when Nevada transfer Dario Gomez drove in Carlos Perez to make it 1-0 Hurricanes.
Miami starter Alejandro Rosario had a strong start, keeping the alumni off the board. In four innings on the mound, Rosario didn’t allow a run.
Set up by strong pitching, the Miami offense finally exploded in the fourth inning, scoring eight runs. Batting around the order, infielder CJ Kayfus homered twice in the inning and notched four RBI.
After five innings, Miami led 10-0.
Undeterred by age, the alumni countered in the top half of the sixth inning. Former St. Louis Cardinal Jon Jay singled to left field to drive in a run. Later, Diamondbacks minor leaguer Adrian Del Castillo singled to right field to drive in Jay and Danny Valencia to narrow the deficit to 10-3.
With the crowd made up of families and friends growing smaller, the Hurricanes and the alumni worked in substitutions, and the offenses stalled.
“I liked the way some of our guys in the pen threw. It looked to me they were being aggressive. We are going to need to go to our bullpen. Our bullpen is going to be very, very important,” DiMare said.
Sophomore Gaby Gutierrez was able to bring in a run on an RBI single in the sixth, but nobody else would cross the plate the rest of the way.
“I’m still not sure about the lineup and I’m still trying to figure that out. It was good to play a game and compete against outside competition,” DiMare said.
With the preseason now complete, the Hurricanes’ next game will be the season opener against Penn State.
“I thought overall we played a fairly clean game,” DiMare said. “It’s a good tune-up and the only game we get to play before we open up against Penn State.”
The three-game series against the Nittany Lions will begin on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mark Light Field.