Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Atlantic Win Streak Nears Record Owls Can Make History in Series vs. Dolphins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Atlantic Win Streak Nears Record Owls Can Make History in Series vs. Dolphins

Article excerpt

Kevin Cooney casually strolled into a Boca Raton restaurant last Saturday night to pick up a takeout order. While there, the Florida Atlantic baseball coach ran into his former high school American Legion coach.

Cooney was asked how his Owls were doing this season.

"We're 39-1," he responded.

Most coaches would answer that with their chests proudly poked out. But not Cooney, who also had to add that his team is on a 33-game winning streak and is ranked 10th in the country.

"I was almost embarrassed," Cooney said. "The guy almost fell out of his seat. This is a solid baseball guy. He understands how difficult that is to do in any sport, especially baseball."

So difficult that FAU is only the third team in NCAA history to have won 33 in a row.

When the Owls take on Jacksonville University at 7 tonight at Brest Field, FAU can tie the national record of 34 in a row, set by Texas in 1977.

Texas also won 33 consecutive games in 1982. FAU then would have a chance to break the record tomorrow when the teams play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. at Brest Field.

Naturally, a lot of excitement has surrounded the program. But the key word is surround. Only fans and media are wrapped up in what FAU may accomplish. The streak is not something the team talks about much.

"The word streak didn't get mentioned until about two weeks ago when a Boca Raton reporter was asking some of our players about it," Cooney said. "One kid had turned to the other and asked what is our record anyway. . . . I don't think the streak is what's occupying everybody's minds."

Cooney's players echoed similar sentiments, including junior first baseman John-Edward Raffo, a Bishop Kenny graduate.

"It's nothing we've really thought about," Raffo said. "It just happened to come up. We've been playing well. We're looking forward to breaking the record, but it's not our No. 1 priority.

"Our No. 1 priority is to play well and come out with three wins."

How did this unbelievable run begin? It started with the opening series against BethuneCookman. Cooney issued a challenge to his players to sweep, which they did.

"In the past, we've always dropped one game in the series to them," Cooney said. "We felt with this team, that shouldn't happen."

Next up was Kentucky. This time the challenge was to be the first Trans America Athletic Conference school to sweep a series with a Southeastern Conference team. FAU did that by dusting off Kentucky in three games. The Owls then struggled in a 3-1 loss to Miami, but have been flying high ever since.

The key has been their unique ability to focus on one game at a time. For FAU, it has become a way of life.

Cooney's proudest moment during the streak was when the Owls broke the state record for consecutive wins, 29 set by Central Florida in 1995.

"That was the record I cared about," Cooney said. …

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