FAU opened the 1999 baseball season by winning 39 of its first 40 games. The Owls departed for Jacksonville in mid April riding a 33-game winning streak, one shy of the national record set by Texas 22 years earlier. The Kevin Cooney-coached Owls’ only loss during on the season came at Miami, the eventual national championship.
Having entered the Top 10 in our countdown of the Top 25 FAU Games Ever Played, we’ve changed the format a bit. We’ll delve a little deeper into each game and implications on FAU’s athletic department. We’ve also asked some guest contributors to provide their thoughts on the games and the rankings.
No. 3 Best FAU Game Ever Played
FAU Baseball 13, Jacksonville 8
FAU rocked Jacksonville pitcher Palmer Ebanks, a future Anaheim Angels draft choice, in the third inning.
A Tommy Murphy bases-loaded chopper over the third baseman’s head opened the scoring, giving the Owls a 2-0 lead in the third. Dickie Hart, Mick Celli and Paul Stryhas all recorded at least one RBI in an inning that saw the Owls send 11 batters to the plate and score six runs.
The Owls sent Todd Moser to the mound that Friday night and the Owls’ ace did what he’d done all season – shut the opponent down.
Moser struck out 10 in 6 2/3, allowing only one run on the night.
Tim Burton followed Moser and didn’t have the best night of his career – though multiple late-inning errors behind him didn’t help Burton’s cause.
The Owls, however, had more than enough offense to win the historic game. FAU batters notched 20 hits on the night, with every starter except designated hitter Anthony Doudt recording at least one hit.
Unfortunately for the Owls, the streak ended in the first game of a doubleheader against Jacksonville the following afternoon, 2-1. Ask former FAU coaches and players about their memory of streak-tying victory and most remember next to nothing at all. Everyone, however, can recount the following day’s loss nearly pitch-by-pitch. Following that streak-snapping loss, FAU rebounded by winning its next six games.
The Owls’ 34-game winning streak remains the national mark. And unlike Texas’ run, which included four wins over non-Division I opponents, all of FAU’s victories came against Division I foes.
Across all other sports, no other FAU accomplishment stands as proudly.
“That’s the greatest team in the history of the university,” Cooney said.
Remembering The Streak – Dickie Hart, FAU Second Baseman
I guess it’s amazing that none of us really remember anything about the game we tied the streak, but we all remember the game we lost.
I, of course, remembered that I had 3 hits and it was on TV and we beat [Jacksonville pitcher] Palmer Ebanks. I even labeled the VHS “FAU rips Palmer Ebanks.”
We were 40-1 after that night, which is basically impossible in baseball. I do remember the streak and that we bought shirts that said “who’s next?” on the back and we really felt like we couldn’t lose. It seemed impossible to lose and no matter the score we all just knew we would win.
There was a different hero every night and literally everyone was a part of it. Every year I hear sports reporters say it’s a good thing that teams lose a game before the playoffs and I think that’s the worst thing that can happen. When we lost that game 2-1 we realized we could actually lose again. I think the main reason why we don’t remember the game we tied the streak was because we thought we were supposed to win. We also couldn’t imagine that we could lose.
I know we are all proud to be a part of that record and proud that we were a part of the great tradition of success that is FAU baseball today.
Previous FAU Top 25 Game Rankings
FAU’s Best Games Ever (25-21)
FAU’s Best Games Ever (20-16)
FAU’s Best Games Ever (15-11)
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 10 – Carolina Comeback
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 9 – Boca Bowl Blowout
FAU’s Best Game Ever: No. 8 – Burrow Bash
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 7 – The Big, Easy Win
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No 6 – Dancing Days
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 5 – Bama Breakthrough
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No 4 – Miami’s Stormy Night