Kevin Cooney is in his 18th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic
University of the Atlantic Sun Conference and 22nd overall. A former pitching
star at Montclair State, Cooney has led FAU to an average of 46 wins per season
the past six years. He as guided the Blue Wave to a 273-106 record and five NCAA
Regionals in the past six years. This is the second year he has offered his thoughts on
baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Feb. 15, 2005
Mickey was the Story
One of the most successful college baseball coaches from “the swamps of
Jersey” was Eddie Lyons. I first met Ed when he was an assistant at Upsala
College, and I beat them 5-0 back in 1971. It was a big game…they had a 17-game
win streak, and our No. 1 pitcher was out with a groin pull. I remember our
seniors telling me not to “screw this up.”
Thanks for the confidence.
Eddie soon became the head coach, and our paths crossed again when I was an
assistant and later, the head coach at Montclair State. We went 11 innings to
beat him in the regional finals in 1987 and went on to win the National
Championship. Eddie is in the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. If you knew all the
Major Leaguers he coached there, you’d understand why. Coach Lyons never screwed
up good talent.
When I got the job at FAU, Eddie would stop by whenever he was in town to
visit his daughter in Deerfield Beach. He usually had a skinny little kid named
Mickey with him. His grandson made Eddie’s eyes twinkle. He would tell me that
Mickey was going to be a ballplayer, and if he was good enough, Eddie wanted him
to play for me at FAU.
Last night, a skinny relief pitcher named Mickey Storey entered our opening
game against Cincinnati with one out, runners on and FAU trailing 6-3 in the
ninth. He made quick work of the two hitters, and we scored three in our half to
send the opener into extra innings.
From that point on, Mickey was the story.
The Bearcats have a solid lineup, but it was no match for Mickey last night
as he struck out six while pitching 4.2 innings of no-hit relief.
I doubt Eddie was still awake back in Livingston, but his grandson fulfilled
“Break on through to the other side”
Jim Morrison and The Doors best described what we need to do today. In the
past two games we have left 28 men on base!!!!! At some point, our offense needs
to break through and start cashing in on all these scoring opportunities. I
credit Bearcat pitching for making big pitches in clutch situations, but 14 LOB
Thanks to Jordan Hafer, we’ve managed to get a few guys to cross home plate,
but even Jordan is frustrated by his own missed opportunities. Brian Lipman is
off to a good start. He had the game-winner yesterday.
Mike McBryde made his debut as a closer yesterday after stealing third and
racing home with the tying run in the eighth inning. Mike was impressive with a
90-plus fastball, a serious hammer and a nasty changeup.
Mike Crotta had his most impressive outing at FAU. He left after a solid six
innings where he made some big pitches in key situations.
It’s time for BP. We’ll see what happens.
“It’s Not Over Till It’s Over”
Yogi had it right; at least this weekend at FAU.
Friday night, we tied it in the ninth and won in the 13th,
Saturday night the four runs in the eighth did the trick and Sunday it was the
lucky eighth again, as we scored two to break through with an 11-9 win and a
sweep of our opening weekend series. Whew!
I woke up Sunday morning with an aching stomach that sent me to bed at 6 p.m.
I’m still not sure if it was stress or a virus, but 37 runners left on base in
three games, coupled with 10 errors are enough to make any coach’s stomach
Luckily for my health, we had Timmy Mascia and Mike McBryde in the lineup. It
seemed every time you looked up Gerber was on base or driving in a run. He was 3
for 4 with three RBI and two stolen bases.
After a scoreless first inning, each team proceeded to score over the next
five innings. I told our guys that the team that could throw up a goose egg
first would win it.
Reliever Brandon Kloess got it done in the seventh, and we responded by
scoring two to tie the game at 9.
There was a 4:30 p.m. curfew on the game because of Cincinnati’s flight, so I
figured we’d better get McBryde on the mound fast. Mike had thrown an inning
Saturday night to get his first save, and he said he felt fine. I asked if he
could go two innings if necessary, and he said, “Give me the ball.” Alright!
Mike got us through the top of the eighth unscathed, and we had the top of
our order for the eighth.
Derek Hutton struggled mightily the first two games, but came through with
his second hit of Sunday’s game to get the winning run on base. I looked at my
watch - 4:18 p.m. - we might not play the ninth, and we certainly wouldn’t
weren’t going extra innings. Should I spend an out by having McBryde bunt Hutton
over, or roll the dice and try to steal the base? We already had stolen 16 bases
in 18 tries.
As “Born To Run” played in my head…I chickened out and gave the bunt sign.
McBryde took a slider away for ball one.
I took off the dress and gave the hit-and-run sign!
McBryde lashed a single to right, first and third…no one out. Thanks Mikey.
Tim Mascia stepped in, and as McBryde took off for second, Timmy drilled a
double to right scoring McFly from first. We had the lead at 4:24 p.m.
At 4:28, we made the third out. McBryde caught his breath, and took the mound
for the ninth, ready to nail down his first college win. Time flies when you’re
Two outs, two strikes on the Cincy hitter, and the home plate umpire yells
over, “I need baseballs.”
“No you don’t,” I yelled back as Mike blew strike three past the hitter. Game
Fathers and Sons
Friday night, the ceremonial first pitches were thrown by two Boca Raton
residents who share a lifelong friendship and more.
Kevin Cleary and Gene McCormack coached in the American Legion program for
years in this town. They managed to produce two pretty good baseball coaches as
Brian Cleary is the head coach for Cincinnati, and John McCormack is our
associate head coach. I think the feelings of pride were felt in both
directions. The kids, in all their dads did for them, and the dads in all their
sons have become. It was a special moment.
For me it was nice, because both fathers have been good to me. Gene is our
biggest fan and has done great things for FAU. Kevin is responsible for getting
my daughter Maggie into St. Jude’s school.
But at the same time it was bittersweet.
I couldn’t help but think of my own father who would have turned 97 Saturday.
He’s been gone since 1985.
As I thought back to all he did for me as a boy, Little League, Boy Scouts,
vacations at the Jersey shore…I thought of the song “Walk Like a Man.”
Springsteen’s character is standing with his father at the altar on his wedding
day, with the same memories I had last night. He later laments that “I didn’t
know I’d have to learn so much on my own.”
Twenty years without my father left me with a lot to learn on my own.
I made some mistakes over that span of time, and have seen great happiness
would have been nice to share it all with Dad.
The Rocket's Red Glare (2/11/05)
It's a Dog's Life (2/3/05)
'You've Got to Learn to Live with What You Can't Rise Above' (1/31/05)
25 Years of FAU Baseball (1/16/05)
So this is Christmas (12/24/04)
The Graduate (12/8/04)
Thanksgiving in Palm Beach County (11/25/04)
An Empty Seat (11/10/04)
Fall is in the Air (10/21/04)
Hurricane Carmen (9/24/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)