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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

May 21, 2003

Catching Up on Things...

Two out of three has a nice RING to it. Last Friday we clinched the regular season championship of the Atlantic Sun Conference. We needed to win one of three against Stetson, and we did it in convincing fashion. Stetson jumped in front in the first, but Jeff Fiorentino hit a bomb to draw us within one in the bottom of the first and relax everyone. Jeff and Rusty Brown each had a big night with nine RBIs between them. Core started slowly, but then settled in and threw real well. The downside is that he developed a pretty bad blister, which is a problem for the conference tournament. Matt O'Brien threw great in relief and Brad Ingwell pitched the ninth and the yearlong march to a ring was done.

I am very proud of the things our kids and coaches have accomplished this year. We have been extremely consistent, losing only one series early in the season to Eastern Michigan. Our pitchers have responded well to their coaching change, and Coach Roig has done a good job in his first season. Coach Mac has worked real hard and real well in his first year with our hitters. The guys have adapted to the change and had a great season. Dickie Hart and the infielders have put in a lot of time and we play great defense most of the time. But, I am really impressed by the sense of purpose and determination shown by our kids throughout the course of the season. There never is a sense of panic in games or during a series. They may not have run off double digit win streaks like past FAU teams, but they are as relentless and steady as the blue waves at the beaches of Boca.

The Conference Tournament...

JU 4 FAU 3... A one-run game with Jacksonville. That's odd.

We started poorly with two errors that contributed to the four runs that beat us. The JU pitcher kept us off balance and leaving men on base throughout the early innings. We battled back late in the game, but a bad strike call, stranded runners, and some unfortunate base running settled the issue. After a shaky start, Chris Saxton settled in and pitched very well. O'Brien continued his good work with a strong 2.3 innings without a hit.

So what's next? Well, we have to send Beam out there tomorrow morning and hope he does what he has been doing all season. We need to start hitting like we can and play a solid game. Then , if we win, the next day will require a doubleheader win to stay alive and reach the final day. Can we pitch Core? Can we not? We'll see.

On a personal my daughter, Maggie turned five years old, and my son Jeff finished high school. As I like to say...I either need to start drinking or stop. I know Maggie had a great day, topped off with a visit to Chuckie Cheese's. Sorry Maggie, but Happy Birthday. Jeff moved here against his will in January to finish his last year of high school. He left behind a nice girl friend, his high school friends, the hometown he loves, to go to school each day where he didn't know one person. His high school baseball career came to an abrupt end because of Florida's eligibility rules, probably a bitter pill for a coach's son to swallow. His life now included a noisy house with a three and five year old pestering him constantly. He had no social outlet and resisted my efforts to include him with our team. But as time passed, he spent more time with us at games and made some road trips. He learned to play poker and win. He learned that schoolwork was not beyond his grasp. Today was the last day of classes. He doesn't have to take his exams. For the second straight semester, he earned over a 3.0. Jeff made the honor roll for the second time, after entering the year with a 1.73 GPA in his first three years of school. Tomorrow, he flies home to NJ for his senior prom and a few days of fun at the Jersey Shore with his friends. His job now is to continue the job he has done in remaking his life. The choices are his, but a lot of FAU players have been a good influence on him for the past five months, and he and they have done well. I couldn't be prouder.

Lastly... I wrote about my neighbor, Tom Fields and his battle with cancer. He now is at Hospice by the Sea in Boca and doesn't have much time left. Mary Beth called today and said that throughout the day Tom would fade in and out, constantly talking about FAU Baseball. He said that we have to play the game, he has to see the game. We hope to get home with a win for him. God Bless Tom and his family. KC



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