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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

March 13, 2003

NeSmith and the Pirates

Travis NeSmith stood sixty feet six inches away from an onslaught of Pirates last night. Not the old fashioned rum swigging, ship sinking, peg legged variety. These Pirates were from that exotic port of call...the great state of New Jersey! The same pirates that produced Mo Vaughn, Craig Biggio, and John Valentin. Those Big Leaguers all played together in the Eighties at Seton Hall University. NeSmith didn't have to get those three out, but the current Pirates had scored twenty runs the night before, so I felt Travis would have his work cut out for him. He responded with a dominating performance, allowing only two hits through nine shutout innings. Travis deserved to stay in the game and pitch all nine, despite our desire to get some work for our pen. Complete game shutouts are special, and Travis was in a good rhythm. His pitch count was low and he was dominating their hitters.

Player-of-the-Week Rusty Brown continued his hot hitting, going three for three with two doubles. Rob Horst had a big three run homer to ice the game for us. Rob's had a slow start compared to his fall performance, but he is still one of our top run producers.

Shaen O'Connor had a good night with two hits, as we gave Orton a rest. Gerber (Tim Mascia) got his first start and went two for four with an rbi.

When I was a high school pitcher at Essex Catholic in Newark, New Jersey, I wanted to go to Seton Hall. My family had little money, but the pastor of our parish was the librarian at Seton Hall. He assured my mother that he was good friends with the coach and would help get me a scholarship. My senior year was nearly over and I had heard nothing from Seton Hall. One Sunday I was serving Mass and the pastor was the celebrant. I asked about the scholarship and he said they had nothing for me. Glad I asked! I went to Montclair State, where tuition was $250 per semester. I had a state scholarship, which was a combination of decent grades and a poor family income. In my senior year we went to the small college regional, Seton Hall went to the College World Series.

The road not taken isn't necessarily the better one. My experience at Montclair didn't get me to the World Series, but it got me to play for Clary Anderson, a legendary coach who taught a lot about baseball, but even more about life. Most of whatever I am today is owed to that man. My college experience was outstanding in every way possible. As Mick Jagger said, "Sometimes you don't get want you want, but you get what you need." KC



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