Miami Herald

New UM baseball coach takes unranked club into 2024 season


Heading into its season opener Friday against New Jersey Institute of Technology, Hurricanes baseball is in unfamiliar territory.

Miami is unranked by any major poll for the first time in decades and doesn’t have any preseason All-Americans. Meanwhile, six ACC teams made the Division I Baseball Rankings, including Wake Forest — the consensus No. 1 team in the nation.

But the Canes, who have 17 newcomers and only four returning starters, say they aren’t worried about preseason rankings.

“The only rankings that really matter are the ones that come in June,” Wake Forest transfer Lucas Costello said Tuesday at Miami baseball media day. “We just take it one day at a time and play the game.”

Miami also has a new head coach — J.D. Arteaga, who was elevated to the top role after 21 years on staff. Former head coach Gino DiMare resigned after five seasons when Miami finished 42-21 but lost in the Coral Gables Regional for the second straight year. UM hasn’t made the College World Series in Omaha since 2016.

“I’m excited about the options that this roster gives us,” Arteaga said. “A lot of moving parts. A lot of guys that can play different positions. It’s going to be a veteran rotation. That’s definitely going to be the strength of our pitching staff ... The bullpen is falling into place, people are getting more and more comfortabl­e with their roles.”

Right hander Gage Ziehl, who went 8-4 with a 4.30 ERA last year, is the only returning starting pitcher. Friday night at 7 at Mark Light Field, Ziehl will throw the first pitch of the season for the second consecutiv­e year.

“Set the tone,” Ziehl

said of taking the mound Friday. “To me that’s what I’m going out there to do. Set the tone for what this year is going to be like.”

Ziehl struggled in his first three collegiate starts as a sophomore last season, allowing 26 runs in those three games. He settled down after that and is looking to draw on last year’s experience.

“I got punched in the

mouth pretty early in those first three games,” Ziehl said, “but learning to play through it and forgetting about the game before, but also learning from the mistakes you make. Those are the biggest things for me.”

Rounding out the rotation are junior left-hander Rafe Schlesinge­r, who went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA last year, and MiamiDade transfer Herick

Hernandez, who will pitch on Sundays.

Arteaga, who said last month that the biggest question heading into the season was the bullpen, announced newcomer Drew Dwyer as the current closer after ace Andrew Walters was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Guardians. Walters’ younger brother, Brian, is expected to return soon after seasonendi­ng surgery last year.

In addition to Ziehl, Miami’s other returning starting players are infielder Blake Cyr, outfielder Edgardo Villegas and catcher Carlos Perez. The Canes have 12 incoming freshmen.

Cyr, who was a consensus Freshman All-American in 2023, will be tasked with leading an offense without star third baseman Yohandy Morales, who was Miami’s highest 2023 draft pick (top pick of second round to the Washington Nationals).

Fortunatel­y, the Canes have some exciting freshmen, including Daniel Cuvet, the No. 1-ranked third baseman in Perfect Game’s 2023 class. Cuvet has big shoes to fill with the departure of Morales, but said he isn’t worried.

“I got my own swing. I got my own throw. I’ve got my own fielding ways,” Cuvet said. So I’m here to be myself and bring my own energy every day.”

Kicking off media day on the deck of Miami’s clubhouse down the firstbase line, Arteaga made a promise. While conceding that this year’s team doesn’t have many, if any, big names, he guaranteed that the new players will leave their mark.

“It’s going to be an exciting team to watch,” Arteaga said.


Miami opens its season at Mark Light Field with a four-game series. The opener will be followed by a doublehead­er at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. The series finale will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.

 ?? AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ ?? UM infielder Antonio Jimenez, a freshman from Davie, fields the ball during drills Tuesday at Mark Light Field.
AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ UM infielder Antonio Jimenez, a freshman from Davie, fields the ball during drills Tuesday at Mark Light Field.

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