Cooney has spent 20 seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. He has
compiled more than 700 victories with the Owls and more than 850 wins in his
24-year career as a head coach. Cooney has
spent the past five seasons offering his thoughts on baseball - and other
things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Cooney's Owls finished their first
season in the Sun Belt Conference at 36-22 in 2007.
March 3, 2008
Many is the time I wished
that baseball had a clock like basketball or football. It must
be nice to go into a prevent defense and watch a quarterback
battle the clock, or in the old days of basketball, trot out
your four-corners offense and watch the minutes tick away.
But the baseball gods decided that you have to complete nine
innings to win a game no matter how good or bad the opponent, or
better stated – your bullpen.
It means, in baseball, you have to prove it all night.
Our week started with a halted game in Daytona Beach. We led
Bethune-Cookman 4-3 after 4½ innings when the winds howled and
the skies opened up on us. We’ll pick that one up in May when
the Wildcats visit us for a game. The rest of the week saw us in
Boca for five games in as many days. Each of those games saw us
have to come from behind at some point to win. The good news is
we managed to win all five.
The game that stood out was Saturday’s.
Jeff Beliveau is a lefty with great stuff and a knack for
missing the strike zone often enough that his pitch count looks
like Wall Street in a Bull Market.
Jeff had a no-hitter into the sixth against Eastern Michigan,
but his pitch count meant he wouldn’t be around to complete what
he started. We had a comfortable 5-0 lead when the Eagles scored
a run and got their first hit – a bloop to center that our
centerfielder didn’t see right away. No problem – our pen would
take care of the rest.
When the dust settled, Eastern had hung a nine-spot on the
scoreboard, and we trailed by four.
Mike McKenna had one of the best offensive seasons in school
history last year. Unfortunately for Mike, he was overshadowed
by Robbie Widlansky, who had the greatest season on record at
FAU. We all hoped McKenna could come close this year to what he
had done in ‘07.
Friday night, Mike gave us a hint of things to come when his
three-run shot to center broke a 2-2 tie and gave us the win.
Now a day later in the eighth, Mike again gave us hope that he
is ready to pick up where he left off last year.
Eastern Michigan sensed its first win was at hand, but Will
Block narrowed the gap with a RBI, and McKenna stepped to the
plate with two runners on base and drilled a fastball half way
up the batter’s eye, 400 feet away.
Eastern Michigan was determined its night was not yet over,
bouncing back with two runs in the top of the ninth. As we ran
off the field, the sky was dark and the outlook bleak.
Our PA guy chose to play Prove It All Night between innings.
And he cranked it.
But if dreams came true, oh wouldn’t that be nice,
But this ain’t no dream we’re livin’ through tonight,
You want it, you take it,
You pay the price.
Prove it all night.
Travis Ozga led off with a walk, followed by Tom Hatcher’s
double. Alex Silversmith pinch-hit, and reached first by getting
plunked with a fastball. Eastern summoned its closer to face
David Wilson, who promptly proved less is sometimes more, as he
dribbled a ball to third scoring Ozga on a fielder’s choice.
Hatcher was at third with the tying run, and Silversmith was the
game-winner at second as Nick Arata stepped in and laced a hard
shot off the glove of the shortstop. Beliveau’s near no-hitter
seemed long ago as I watched our guys celebrate at home plate.
It took all night.
"Prove It All Night" - Bruce Springsteen from Darkness On The
Edge of Town