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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

June 5, 2004--Coral Gables Regional


There's a great Kevin Costner movie called Tin Cup about a broken down range pro who qualifies for the U.S. Open and is faced with a win or lose decision. I hate golf, but it's a great movie.

But first...St. Bonaventure.

The Bonnies and the Blue Wave squared off this morning at 11 am in an elimination game. The winner plays on and the loser goes home.

So naturally it became Rusty Brown time. The big guy put us on top in the first with a booming three-run homer over the scoreboard in left. Then, in the second, Rusty made it two in a row with a two-run shot to left, and the rout was on.

Matt O'Brien struck out five hitters in his five innings pitched and turned things over to Bobby DeMichael to finish the day on the hill.

Brown finished with three hits and six RBI on the day, and Rob Orton was 3-4 with three RBI and a triple.

It was a pretty good morning's work for two seniors who missed much of the season because of injuries, they both are back, and making up for lost time.

The final score was 14-2, and we were able to return to the hotel and await the winner of the NC State - Miami game.

So now, back to the movie.

Kevin Costner's character chose not to play his biggest shot safe on the last hole. The championship was on the line, and the safe way was to "lay up" and play for the tie, then hope to win the playoff. He chose to risk everything on the best chance to win. I won't tell you what happened, but the movie influenced a big decision for us tonight.

Randy Beam was slated to start tonight against the Wolfpack and try to keep our season alive. He would probably get us to the championship day against Miami. But at that point we would have no experienced starting pitcher to throw. Our chances of forcing a final game would be slim.

Pitching coach George Roig felt that Will Mann could beat NC State. Coach Mac felt holding out Beam provided our best hope for winning the regional. My son Jeff was on the bus hammering me to gamble and throw Will.

It was easy for him to say that. Jeff wouldn't have to face Randy if we lost tonight, depriving the big lefty of a chance to pitch in his last regional.

As Smarty Jones was being led to the gate, I was asking myself if we could risk leaving our best horse in the barn.

Will Man gave me the answer I wanted.

When I laid out the plan to Randy and Will, I told them both that I would live with the consequences of the decision. But I told Randy that we needed him on the mound Sunday to have a chance to win. I didn't care about finishing third if there was a better chance to win it all.

I looked at Will and said "You've got to give Randy Beam one more start."

Will's reply..."I won't let him down."

He didn't. Three hours and nine innings later, Will Mann had his first college complete game, striking out nine in a 10-2 win, putting Randy Beam on the mound at 1 pm tomorrow. We'll have to win twice, but Randy's the guy to get us started.

Tim Macia and Derek Hutton had six RBI between them to lead the offense. Rusty drove in two, and Jeff Fiorentino played one of the greatest defensive games in right that I've seen. He made two spectacular running and leaping catches to rob the Wolfpack. He kept Will in control at the end.

So here we are.

Miami is swinging the bat better than anyone in the country. They roughed up Jared Weaver last weekend, and put a hurting today on some good State pitchers.

It is a tough row to hoe, but thanks to Will Mann, we're set to face the challenge.

We didn't lay up and we're on the green with a chance to win. KC



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