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.



June 5, 2004

The Wolf at the Door


Last night against the Wolfpack of N.C. State, we felt the key to victory was somehow getting a lead against pitcher Vern Sterry and hanging on for dear life. We were up 4-2 after six innings when the skies over Miami opened up and forced a two-hour rain delay.

When we returned, Adam McLaurin was on the mound in place of Sterry, and Jeff Fiorentino greeted him with a leadoff double. Derek Hutton dropped down a bunt towards third. The N.C. State third baseman charged hard and stopped as McLaurin pounced on the ball, wheeled and threw to third. No one was there except Fiorentino. Ich raced home, Hutton slid safely into second. Tim Mascia then walked, putting runners on first and second with no one out.

Rusty Brown stepped in with a first-inning RBI under his belt, and the chance to break open the ball game. It was not to be, as Brown popped up and Horst grounded into a double play. The lead was back to three entering the eighth.

Craig Hughes entered in relief of Chris Saxton, who had pitched courageously, but the delay necessitated a change. Hughes struggled some in the eighth, and I felt he was not as sharp as I would like. The Wolfpack had gotten one more run, and the lead was back to two.

We had chances to add to the lead in the eighth and ninth, but a bullet by Fiorentino was caught and a diving catch at shortstop with runners at second and third robbed pinch-hitter Anthony Albano.

Three outs to go.

Allen Knight relieved Hughes, and someday he will be stronger for what ensued. But last night was a tough one for the big right-hander.

The Wolfpack rallied to score one run and put the tying run on third with one out. Knight struck out Erick Taylor. We needed one more out.

David Hicks ran the count full and drew a walk. Now the winning run was on first base, and DH Mike Jensen entered the box, hitless on the night.

Allen bounced a curveball in the dirt, and Robbie Orton made his second great block of the inning keeping the runner at third. But Knight now had a 1-2 count on Jensen, his second two-strike, two-out count of the inning.

Why is the third strike so much harder to get?? The pressure is equally great for hitter and pitcher. Someone needs to blink.

It was our turn. Jensen ripped a double to left-center, and the game was tied.

Now it was Dustin Knight against Allen Knight. Dustin won this battle with a single to center putting us into the losers’ bracket.

I can't describe the feeling. Sure it's only a game, people are sleeping on cardboard a short drive from here, but at that moment, there is no other perspective.

The Wolf got through the door.




Previous Entries

Land of Hope and Dreams (6/2/04)

Glory Days (5/30/04)

Blue Wave Crashes on Two to Reach A-Sun Final (5/28/04)

Seniors Rule the Day (5/27/04)

A Lefty Lift (5/26/04)

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)