Kevin Cooney is
in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University
and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows
of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national
power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a
Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying
the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.
March 6, 2004
Hanging with LaRussa was in the
On Tuesday, Florida Atlantic got a big thrill as we played our first-ever game
against a Major League team. The score doesn’t matter (especially losing 10-1).
All that counts is that our kids had a great time and a big thrill.
Tony LaRussa didn’t play his regulars, but no one really cared. Just facing
people who have gotten to the point that every red-blooded American who laces up
a pair of spikes hopes to reach was good enough.
The best part was the clubhouse.
Our guys must have gained 10 pounds on Tuesday. There was cereal, fruit, PB&J,
juice, coffee, soda and milk. Our kids saw enough Bazooka Bubble Gum to warm the
heart of any dentist. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and the morning newspapers
rounded out the spread.
After BP, the guys found sodas and subs waiting when they returned to change. No
wonder we didn’t steal any bases!
There was pizza for everyone at the end of the day. We may need some uniform
The game was fun except when they put a six-spot on us in the second. It’s
amazing just how good the defense is at that level. The Cards turned one DP so
fast, you barely saw the ball.
LaRussa was great. He was up to date on our season and very complimentary toward
our players. I thanked him for our first and third offense. He was the subject
of a chapter in George Will’s book Men At Work. In it, LaRussa outlined
three plays to score a runner from third when you don’t feel that a hit is
eminent. He also discussed strategies for making out batting orders. It is all
good stuff, and I’ve been stealing from it for years.
Tony introduced me to Jim Leyland, whom he described as “the best baseball man I
know.” I was the winning pitcher against Leyland’s Clinton Tigers in the Midwest
League playoffs in 1973. We shared stories about some of those guys, including
the legendary Moe Hill.
The Cardinals have indicated they want to do this annually.
Twist my arm.
FAU – FIU… Rivalry Week is here.
Wednesday, we rode down to Miami and played the first of four games in five days
against the Golden Panthers. We held on to win 7-5 thanks again to a big home
run from Rob Horst. Old Man River keeps rolling along.
Robbie Widlansky had a big night subbing at third for Evan Brannon. A bad back
has flared up again, and Evan is on the shelf for a while. Woody had a perfect
hit-and-run single in the first and later hit a big two-run double in the
seventh to extend our lead. Rob’s hit the ball well all spring but generally
right at someone.
Will Mann won his second start, and the bullpen did another good job.
We beat a great pitcher in Derek DeCarlo. There were a lot of scouts there to
see him Wednesday, and with good reason. I’m just glad we got to him early. Now
we have our 1,2, 3 guys set for the weekend. But anything can happen when we
play each other.
Friday night…FAU 13 - FIU 1
Baseball is a strange game.
FIU had to scratch its starting pitcher before than game. Normally I wouldn’t
mind hearing that, but Andrew Edwards was chosen to start. I had expected Andrew
at some point, but wasn’t looking forward to facing him. We recruited him out of
junior college and felt we lost a good one in the recruiting game. After a
surgery, Edwards had returned to his previous form, and I expected a close game.
Instead, we got nine runs on eleven hits. Go figure.
Randy Beam gave us another good outing, giving up four hits and no runs on about
60 over six innings.
Derek Hutton had three RBI with a 3-for-4 night. Jordan Hafer got a start and
responded with two hits and two RBI.
So tomorrow, we head back down the road for Game 3 of the Turnpike Series.
Look for a close game.
Winds of Change (3/1/04)
Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)
Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)
Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)
Opening Weekend (2/9/04)
Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)
FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)