Four former Westminster Christian teammates are set to begin the season with the Miami Hurricanes led by another Westminster Christian grad in head coach Gino DiMare.
Sophomore outfielder and pitcher Dylan Cloonan, sophomore infielder Tyler Paige, redshirt freshman pitcher Alex Ruiz, and freshman infielder Anthony Vilar are looking to help the Hurricanes to a bounce-back season after going 28-26 and missing the NCAA Tournament last year.
“Usually in high school you play with your teammates and you go off and play against each other in college so this is really special coming to UM and staying in Miami with my teammates from high school,” Vilar said.
Miami opens its season Friday against Rutgers.
“We’re all excited here especially with Gino coming in,” Vilar said. “It’s high expectations and we’re ready to get stared.”
DiMare, a 1988 Westminster grad, begins his first season as head coach after 19 years as an assistant.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was excited,” DiMare said. “I’m very excited, but that’s all I can really say. My mindset is to try to win games and get the program to where we all want it to be.”
Cloonan is coming off a productive season hitting .289 with nine doubles, one triple, and 14 RBIs in 34 games.
“I for sure want to play more games this year,” Cloonan said. “And I just want to work to get better. I want to hit better. I want to be able to do my job. If there is a guy at third I need to score. Just big plays are what get me going.”
Cloonan also made four appearances out of the bullpen and is looking for a larger role this season.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love the work,” Cloonan said. “I love to hit, but it’s always fun to go on the mound and be able to try to do something most players can’t do at the D-I level.”
Vilar, who has been competing for a starting role at second base, is the lone newcomer of the group and he has been adjusting to the demands of playing college baseball.
“It’s mostly the work you put in,” Vilar said. “All of the work we put in the fall, I’ve never done anything like it.”
Paige is looking to find a role this season after appearing in 17 games last year hitting .111.
An arm injury sidelined Ruiz last season, but he is back and eyeing a role out of the bullpen.
The four former teammates helped Westminster Christian go 24-5 and advance to the 4A regional final in 2017.