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.



April 17, 2004

A Little Rusty


Our best hitter last year was Rusty Brown.

It seems like any time he had the chance, Rusty would get us the big RBI. Entering his fourth year as a starter, we all had high hopes for the big guy from North Ft. Myers HS. We all know he is the type of player who can carry an entire team when he gets hot.

As most of you know, Rusty fractured his ankle the first week of practice in January. It still isn't healed, but he wants to play. Sitting out the first month and a half of the season is enough to make anyone a little rusty, but I'm sure the pain doesn't help matters.

Rusty is a kid who is rarely satisfied. When you are struggling, that makes things even more difficult. This part of the year, we primarily play three weekend games and nothing during the week. Those conference weekend games are pressure-packed and a difficult scenario for a guy trying to find his stroke.

Thanks to another defensive debacle in the third inning, we again found ourselves locked in a tight conference game last night against Lipscomb. Their pitcher was a little sidearm guy with a Frisbee slider and a sneaky fastball. He settled down and gave our right-handed batters fits.

Tied in the ninth, Rusty came to bat and promptly fouled a pop fly near our dugout. The wind was blowing, and the Lipscomb first baseman overran the ball, and Rusty had a second life. When you are struggling to hit .200, some people would be sending up a pinch-hitter in this situation. But if we are going to be the team I think we are capable of being, we need Rusty.

The Lipscomb pitcher wound up and threw his 170th and last pitch of the night. There was no doubt when ball met bat as to the final resting place of old Mr. Rawlings.

I usually watch the flight of the ball on home runs, but this time I watched Rusty gimp his way around the bases like Kirk Gibson. Then, I looked for his dad. Parents suffer through slumps as much as their kids. There were hugs and high fives all around on the first-base hill. It was a nice night for the Browns; a good start for us on the weekend. Thanks Rust.

Back on the Beam...

Randy Beam got himself right after two consecutive starts. He and pitching coach George Roig worked on some things during the week, and their efforts paid off in our first game.

Randy was down in the strike zone all day and had a shutout into the seventh and final inning. Lipscomb broke through for two late runs, but Randy's outing was encouraging.

We scored 17 runs on 17 hits, four walks, and three Lipscomb errors. Derek Hutton was 4 for 4 including two hits in the first inning. Rob Horst and Jarod Lauth homered for us.

FAU President Frank Brogan called down from the stands that we needed to save some runs for the second game. Boy, was he ever right.

Mental toughness...

What changes in the half-hour between games of a doubleheader? The two teams are the same that just finished playing Game 1. Except sometimes the same teams somehow don't show.

Chandler Ganick took the hill for Lipscomb and completely silenced our bats. Looking at his stats coming into the game, that is not the outcome I expected. But he threw his curve ball for strikes, and we got four hits and one run.

I think that we showed a real lack of mental toughness. This was a team on the ropes, and we let them come back from a pounding to beat us.

We won't accomplish our goals that way.




Previous Entries

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)

OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)

The Present and the Past (4/8/04)

Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)

Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)

A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)

Spring Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)

Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)

Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)

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)