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.
April 8, 2005
Lost in the Flood
Last night was the first of a two-game series against Florida International
University. The Battle of I-95 has been a study in the absurdity that is college
baseball. We always seem to have a close game and a blowout. Fortunately for us,
things have gone well of late.
Wednesday night was no exception.
When you win 18-5 in a game that featured a 16-run second inning, a game’s
turning point might be lost in the flood of offense. Not to us last night.
During Tuesday’s practice, we spent a good portion of time working on
controlling the opponent’s running game. That aspect of our defense was missing
last weekend, and with FIU having already stolen 90 bases as a team, we needed
to be better.
As a reminder, I always put a dot next to the name of any opponent with good
running numbers on the lineup card. The FIU lineup looked like my Mother’s
Friday night bingo card at St. Catherine’s. Everybody runs!
We’ll be facing the same type of offense from Belmont this weekend. Brandon
Kloess has done a good job as a starter in our mid-week games, but his job
against FIU was to keep as many as possible off base, and control the ones that
do reach safely.
In the first inning, leadoff hitter Dennis Diaz singled, and led off first
looking for his 25th steal of the season. But Brandon did a good job
of being patient as Coach Roig kept varying our picks to first base. Diaz
blinked first, as he broke early and Brandon threw over. Diaz was thrown out at
second by first baseman Mike McKenna. Brian Pullin then doubled to right and
started dancing off second base. After a couple of preemptory inside moves,
Kloess delivered as Pullin broke for third. Catcher Justin Martin threw a strike
to Robbie Widlansky, and the scoring threat was squelched.
That was turning point No. 1.
We led off the bottom of the first with a McBryde single and a bunt hit by
Fonseca. Before I could get a read on the FIU defense and their pitcher’s time
to home, Mike McKenna bounced into a 1-6-3 double play. “Big Mo” had switched
back to the FIU dugout.
Robbie Widlansky stepped in against lefty starter Jon Banke. Woody has batted
cleanup a couple of times, but never against a left-handed pitcher. Our lineup
cards are kept in Coach Roig’s office. When I got one Wednesday afternoon, I
noticed he had scrawled his own version of a lineup on a piece of paper. It
looked good except for Widlansky batting fourth against a lefty. But I stayed
with George’s choice despite my misgivings.
Woody made Coach Roig look smart when he ripped a fastball over the
right-field fence to give us a 2-0 lead, and turning point No. 2.
The next inning brought the flood.
What goes through coaches’ minds during an inning that features two hit
batsmen, five walks, 10 hits and 16 runs? When you’re on the good side of such
an onslaught, you worry that your happy young people stay under control and do
nothing to show up the opponent. You also feel for your opposing coach. At least
I do. I’ve been in his shoes.
That sort of inning produces feelings of disbelief, as everything seems to go
in the direction of the offensive team. Balls that other days are caught are
missed, pitches that are borderline are called balls and flares are dropping
everywhere. Some players start betting on who will make the first out. (Not
really betting. Gambling is illegal in the NCAA) Tyler Stevens was our guy. He
then had the pressure of not also making the second. He managed to get a hit.
When the waters recede and you survey the damage - an 18-1 lead - you start
worrying that the offense will go into shutdown mode. It rarely fails. A pitcher
comes in and makes it all look so easy. Where was that guy an hour ago?
Why would grown men want to coach?
The Battle I-95 will resume May 11 at FIU. My gut tells me that one will be a
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a Promised Land...
Yesterday I was throwing BP and watching as my 5-year-old son Luke was
steering our John Deere field groomer around the ballpark. I smiled as he sat in
the lap of my oldest son Jim, who stopped by to say hello on his 25th
It seems like yesterday he was the 5-year-old sitting in my lap as I dragged
Now he’s a college graduate applying to the Boca Raton Police Department. His
life is on the move as he looks for the Promised Land.
I looked at the two of them and knew that I have lived to see the
Happy Birthday Jim.
Good Things Come to Him Who Waits (4/6/05)
A Long Ride Home (4/3/05)
The Working Life (3/31/05)
A Good Friday (3/28/05)
St. Patrick's Day on Wheels (3/18/05)
Beware the Ides of March (3/16/05)
Conference Sweep (3/13/05)
Madness and Soaring Eagles (3/11/05)
Viva Las Vegas (3/8/05)
The Rocket, and a Black and Blue Big Ten Weekend (3/1/05)
So You Wanted to Coach (2/21/05)
Mickey was the Story (2/15/05)
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)