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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

April 28, 2003

From the Outhouse To The Penthouse!

There was no joy in Mudville, or Boca Raton Friday night, as Brian Lippman launched a grand slam over the left field fence to give Troy State a seven run lead in the sixth inning of game one of a key conference series.

It's tough enough for kids to face that sort of deficit, but when it comes at the expense of your top pitcher, it can really take the wind from your sails. I'm not a big believer in pep talks. I like to think that kids playing at this level are bright enough to know what's going on in the course of a game. Sometimes, though, everybody needs to be reminded and reassured during tough times. This was no Knute Rockne speech designed to pump up these guys. We simply talked about the approach needed to inch our way back into the game and reminded one another that we were capable of doing just that. Oftentimes kids respond with an approach that is well meaning, but less than confident. Not this time. There wasn't a moment when I didn't believe that we were going to win. Coming from an eternal pessimist, that means that there must have been a lot of positive feelings in that dugout.

We took a patient, yet aggressive approach at the plate, and the Troy starter faltered. In came their best reliever with an eye towards shutting us down. Our guys battled each at bat and put the pressure back on the pitcher. Five walks and nine hits later the celebration was on.

One of the best things about this team is the depth of talent available. We are able to bring some good players off the bench to give us better matchups at the plate, our bullpen and starters are talented and tough. This has the one drawback of limiting the playing time and innings of some good players. We've managed to utilize the majority of the team so that everyone is prepared and ready when called to perform. That's what happened Friday night. Mascia drove in our first two runs after not having played much over the last few weeks. Horst came off the bench and ripped a 1-2 pitch down the line for a double in the ninth to tie the game. Rob's big hit followed a great at bat by Matt Pali, which resulted in a leadoff double. Then Derek Hutton drilled a shot past the third baseman and pinch runner Joe Yeager raced home with the game winner.

Pali had a great night. Two doubles, two singles, and Coach Mac's hit by pitch. Troy State was sick of Matt by 11:00PM, but it got worse. The next day Matt homered in the first to give Randy Beam a lead he would never relinquish. Pali later broke the hearts of the men from Troy, when he drilled a double to center field to beat the outfield shift and win the second game for us 3-1.

After a rough six innings, we received great pitching the rest of the way. Friday night, Callahan, O'Brien, and Pillsbury did a great job out of the pen. Saturday, Beam was dominant. He now has thrown fourteen straight shutout innings and given up only four hits.

Saxton gave us five strong innings in the third game, leaving a 1-1 game. C-Han did his job for an inning, and Chris Pillsbury came in to close out the day. A good weekend for Chris...a save and a win.

Saturday was a long day. Over three inches of rain fell overnight, and it continued to rain until about 3:30. Once it stopped, we let the South Florida sandy soil do its thing, dug some holes, scooped off some water, spread some Turface and Kitty Litter (we ran out of Turface) and we were good to go. After Pali's home run...the sun came out! He hit it that hard. KC



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