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.



May 26, 2004

A Lefty Lift


Atlantic Sun Tournament…Day 1

Chris Salberg was the obvious choice to be our opening game pitcher today against Georgia State. Mickey Storey nay have been selected to the first-team all-conference, but the curly-haired left-hander from Illinois was the guy we needed on the hill today.


"Sunshine" would be going on three days’ rest - unusual in this era of once-a-week college starts. But he has a rubber arm, a left arm. The Panthers are loaded with lefties and switch-hitters, so Salberg got the call.


It was logical.


It was also scary.


When you have one of the best pitchers in a tournament and don't use him in the first game, you're wide open for second guessing.


But this wasn't a case of holding a guy out for a tougher team later; it was the best matchup for a win. That's why Frank Brogan pays me the big money.


Chris responded with a gem, cruising through six innings with no runs and nary a hard-hit ball. We pulled him then, with an eye towards Saturday, and the bullpen did the rest.


We scored early on some sloppy defense by Georgia State, which helped relieve the normal early-game tension, but were unable to come up with a big hit to break things open until the sixth. Alex Fonseca led off with a double. Fons had struggled against GSU last week, so it was good to see him turn on a ball. That brought up catcher Justin Martin, who promptly dropped down a perfect bunt single to put runners on the corners. Tyler Stevens settled in the box, fresh off being named second-team all conference. Ty laid down a textbook safety squeeze bunt to first base as Fons trotted home, and Martin and Stevens were both safe.


I've decided to put Derek Hutton back in the starting lineup, despite the season-long slump. He's been hitting much better the last three weeks in the games he's played, he gives us better range, a great DP guy and he can run and bunt.


Hut had already driven in a run in the third with a double over the centerfielder's head, but I was looking for a big inning. Derek laid down a perfect sacrifice. Our third straight bunt had runners at second and third as big Jordan Hafer strode to the plate.


One guy's misfortune is another player's opportunity.


Mike McKenna has had a solid freshman year, winning the first-base job and providing us with power at the plate. But on Sunday he strained his back lifting his former roommate's television.


Maybe they'd have been better off with a smaller set.


Mac's on the shelf, and Hafer's got his chance. In a game crying out for a big hit, our biggest player laced a double to right plating two and making the lead 5-0. Jordan later would absolutely crush a ball into the wind in left. The GSU leftfielder made a circus catch as Hafer's third RBI tagged and scored.


We went on to score three more in the inning and another in the next for an 11-1 win.


Troy was upset in the first game by the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. If there was ever a team whose named reflected the way it plays, it's these guys. My old coach used to say that "a team reflects its coach." That's surely true of Rusty Stroupe and his Bulldogs.


In the night game, Stetson defeated UCF 8-5, which means we play the Hatters at 7 p.m. tomorrow night. We'll throw Storey, and I think they'll throw Nery. Neither team has seen much of their opposing pitchers, and Nery has been throwing well.


But I like our guy, so we've got a chance. I told our guys today's game was for "sleepy time." Had we lost, our game would have been at 11 a.m. Instead, they can sleep all morning, and we'll get subs from Publix.


Whatever motivates you is good.


I feel bad being on the road, staying up late and sleeping undisturbed until I feel like getting up, while my wife is home with the rug rats, five cats and our dog Trouble.


Maggie was freaking out at dinner tonight. It seems that there was a thunderstorm on the way, and she was running around thinking it would be another hurricane. MB finally calmed her down, and I hope they get some rest.


It's hard to believe her school year ends Friday; first grade is in the books. Will we survive the summer?


If you get the chance...listen to Jesus Was An Only Son on the Devils And Dust CD by Bruce Springsteen. It puts a secular, parental spin on a son's death. Thinking of that Friday as a parent watching her son walk to his fate hits home.




Previous Entries

Missing the Fons (5/26/04)

Who'll Stop the Rain? (5/23/04)

The 'Badlands' of Miami (5/19/04)

A Bad Part of a Good Job (5/14/04)

Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)

Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)

To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)

The Promised Land (4/21/04)

A Little Rusty (4/17/04)

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)