Feb. 14, 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 number one 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 9th. 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 2/3 innings of no hit relief.
I doubt Eddie was still awake back in Livingston, but his grandson fulfilled his dreams.
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 each game?
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 6pm. 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 shaky.
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 9-9.
There was a 4:30pm 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- 4:18pm, we might not play the ninth, and we certainly 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 4:24pm.
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 having fun.
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 over.
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 well.
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 and joy.
It would have been nice to share it all with Dad. KC