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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

Feb. 25, 2003

The Saints Were With Us!

The Siena Saints have come and gone. In their wake, FAU has a three game sweep of the 2003 series, and Siena is back in the cold and snow. We thought that the beautiful South Florida weather would be a major player Saturday night and into Sunday. As a result, we doubled up and played two early on Saturday. The eventual rain proved to be less than anticipated, but with an early Sunday flight, we thought it better to be safe than sorry.

As much as I hate doubleheaders, the nice thing about Saturday was that the games were each nine innings long. In our conference we play two seven inning games. Every coach I know hates those shortened games. It just seems that there is a greater sense of urgency in a seven inning game, that you don't get in a normal game. The ebb and flow of a nine inning game has such a natural rhythm to it, that the seven inning variety surely lacks. The four fewer innings played is a big help to the team with the weaker pitching. Usually teams have a couple of good starting pitchers, and little depth in their bullpens. The good teams can call on some quality arms and stop rallies in the middle and later innings. That isn't much of a factor if your starter goes to the sixth, and you then only need to survive one inning with your pen.

We received good starting pitching from Danny Core and Travis NeSmith on Saturday.

Danny broke the school record for career strikeouts (282) formerly held by Carmen Cali. Carmen pitched for three seasons before signing with the Cardinals in 2000. So Danny caught and passed him over three seasons and an additional three games. Not bad. Core also tied Cali for first in career wins with 22. Danny will have a number of career records at season's end...not the least of which is hit batsmen. He also moved past Jim Cooney (I had to get him in here somehow) into third place in career appearances.

Core is the sort of pitcher who gives you a good chance to win each time he takes the mound. A great competitor, he rarely beats himself. I was pleased to hear the other day that Bob Gibson was the pitcher after whom he has patterned himself. Though a different style of pitcher, Danny shares some of Gibson's best qualities. I am always pleased when one of our players knows his baseball history. Many guys think that Maddux, Johnson, and Shilling invented pitching.

NeSmith did a nice job in his second start of the year. Travis struck out five through five innings, while issuing only one walk. We have been easing him back after a delayed start because of some muscle tightness that seems to be gone. Travis is an imposing figure out there and it is good to have him back.

Our hitters did a pretty good job Saturday despite the wind continuing to blow in throughout our season. I don't use this as an excuse, but we are a fly ball team. If the South Florida winds don't let up, or return to their normal direction, we could be in trouble. I know. Just hit the ball on the ground. Most coaches are screaming that to kids their whole life. However, statistically the team that hits more balls in the air has a better chance to win. We just need to stop having them go right at people. I am not looking for help...even no wind would be fine with me. KC



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