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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

March 10, 2003

"And a Child Shall Lead Them."

If you have ever looked closely at the label on a jar of Gerber baby food, and then checked out freshman Tim Mascia, you would understand his nickname. "Gerber" is another product of a great baseball program at Wellington High School. Tim probably has the best pure swing on our team, and has a chance to be an outstanding player during his career at FAU. His problem is just cracking the lineup. There are some upperclassmen ahead of Tim who deserve a chance to see if they are going to get the job done. We always tell our freshmen to work hard, be ready, and try to be patient.

Yesterday, we looked to be sailing along with a nice win to cap off a good weekend at Georgia State. Randy Beam had struck out ten through six, and we had a rested pen to keep things quiet. In went Mascia to replace Rob Horst and give us some good defense. Maybe he'd even get an at bat. In English II, Brother Shea would have called that move, foreshadowing.

I also removed Rob Orton from the game an inning later. Robbie had caught all three games and was a little banged up and sore. The wrinkle in this move was that catcher Mike Murray had also been removed for defense. He was playing first base. Shaen O'Connor was our DH and now had to go behind the plate. This put our relief pitcher into the batting order in place of Orton. No problem. We planned on using a few guys at the end and would merely pinch hit when the pitcher's spot rolled around.

Ah, "the best laid plans of mice and men..." After a three run home run by Georgia State brought them within one, it was time to go right to our best reliever, batting order be damned! Chris Saxton came in and got us out of a jam, and then had to lead off the inning. Hitting is not his strong point. We were quickly back on defense.

After an error, a single, and a fielder's choice, the game was tied at seven, and GSU had the winning run at third in the ninth. Saxton did his job and got a huge strikeout, and we were on to the tenth. Perfect. Extra innings with an eleven hour bus ride waiting in the wings.

Matt Pali ripped a leadoff single. Rusty Brown stepped in with orders to bunt Pali to second base. Luckily, I woke up and saw we had the left handed swinging Mascia on deck with a lefty on the mound. I changed the sign and let Rusty hit. Double down the line. I was so happy, I didn't notice Rusty at second. I thought we had runners on first and third and was busy telling Mascia to bunt to first and we'd take the lead with a safety squeeze. This was perfect against the lefty. Much easier than hoping Mascia could hit the lefty.

Awaking from my stupor and seeing Rusty on second, not first, I called off the bunt and just hoped Timmy would put the ball in play. He hit the scoreboard in right with the first pitch! A three run jack to win a game in the tenth. Not bad for your first college homerun. Not bad for Gerber.

Saturday saw us sweep a doubleheader. Core pitched another great game, Brown and Fiorentino each homered. In the second game, Matt Pali put on a defensive show in left field as he nailed Dustin Phillips at the plate as Phillips tried to tag and score GSU's second run. A case of irony here, since it was Phillips who nailed Hutton at the plate last year in the ninth to start our lost weekend. Later, Pali would combine with Fonseca to throw out the tying run at home on a beautiful relay.

Derek Hutton's sac fly gave us the lead back in the fourth. Matt Pali and Mike Cox hit back to back bombs to support James Callahan's clutch relief pitching. Saxton finished a good day for the visitors from Florida. KC



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