University of Miami baseball opens its season next Friday against Maine, but the Hurricanes are starting the celebration this weekend with Fan Fest.
“We’re really looking forward to the season,” said Chris Diaz, the left-handed junior who had the second best earned-run average (1.64) last year in the Atlantic Coast Conference and will start for the Canes in the opener. “We’ve been working so hard to finally start playing real games that matter so we can get this team back to Omaha.’’
UM coach Jim Morris told the Miami Herald that he will go with the same pitching rotation as last season, since all four starters have returned. After Diaz (7-5 in ’13) there’s Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.78), Andrew Suarez (3-6, 3.95) and Javi Salas (5-5, 3.18).
Fan Fest, free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park and will feature an array of fun activities, including inflatables for children, fan batting practice, face painting and tours of the locker room.
The Alumni Game at 7 p.m. will pit former Canes against the current ones.
A team autograph session, in which 2014 team posters will be available, begins at 4:30 p.m.
Representatives from the ticket office will help fans select seats for season-ticket packages.
Though the Hurricanes (37-25 in 2013) extended their NCAA record with their 41st consecutive NCAA Tournament berth last spring, they failed to advance out of a regional for their third consecutive year. They are expected to rebound in 2014 with one of their best young classes in years – not to mention the strong pitching staff. The newest recruiting class was rated No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 by Baseball America.
The Canes are ranked 16th by Baseball America, 17th in the USA Today coaches’ poll and 13th by Collegiate Baseball.