Hit streak now 56, but FIU season over
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Rockin' Robin will have to wait until next season, but Florida International shortstop Garrett Wittels can now identify a bit with Joltin' Joe.
Wittels extended his hitting streak to 56 games on Saturday -- the same number of Joe DiMaggio's major league-record hit streak in 1941 -- but the Golden Panthers were eliminated with a 15-9 loss to Dartmouth in the NCAA Coral Gables regional.
Top Division I Hitting Streaks
FIU's Garrett Wittels' 56-game hitting streak is just two games shy of Robin Ventura's NCAA record, which he set with Oklahoma State.
|58||Robin Ventura, 1987|
|56*||Garrett Wittels, 2010|
|47||Phil Stephenson, 1981|
|45||Roger Schmuck, 1971|
|42||Chuck Abbott, 1996|
|* -- active|
Wittels hit an RBI double in the first inning, leaving him two games shy of the Division I record set by Oklahoma State's Robin Ventura in 1987. Wittels, a sophomore, will attempt to break the mark when he resumes the streak next season.
"It definitely means a lot," Wittels said. "Joe DiMaggio is one of the greatest players of all time."
Wittels went 3 for 5 and finished the season with a .417 average and a FIU season-record 100 hits. He broke the previous school mark of 98 by Kenny Aderley in 1986.
"There are a couple of balls that I have kept [during the streak]," Wittels said. "This is one I'm going to keep."
Wittels began the streak with a bunt single in the Golden Panthers' season-opening game against Maryland on Feb. 19.
"I've seen a lot of great things but this is a streak of consistency," FIU coach Turtle Thomas said. "Just imagine, this is June 5th and he's gotten a hit every game he's played. That's pretty strong."
FIU (36-25) failed to provide Wittels another game to extend the streak this season after squandering an early four-run lead against Dartmouth.
Jason Brooks put Dartmouth (27-18) ahead for good with a tie-breaking grand slam in the sixth for a 12-8 lead.
"I was looking for an off-speed pitch and the pitcher hung a changeup," Brooks said. "Even when we went down there was no worry or panic."
Cole Sulser (8-0) allowed two runs in five relief innings for the win. Nick Polizanno (4-5) took the loss.
The victory was Dartmouth's first in a regional tournament since 1987.
"The reason this feeling is so good is because of the kids I coach," Dartmouth coach Bob Whalen said. "Our kids were incredibly tough and poised."
The Big Green will play a second elimination game Sunday against the loser of the Miami-Texas A&M game later Saturday.
Dartmouth erased a 6-2 deficit with a five-run third and chased FIU starter Aaron Arboleya. Zack Bellenger's two-run home run off Polizano gave Dartmouth a 7-6 lead.
Bellenger tied it 8-all with his second home run in the fifth. The Golden Panthers had gone ahead in the top of the inning on Yoandy Barroso's home run and Sean Reilly's run-scoring single.
FIU scored five runs in the second, keyed by Tim Jobe's two-run home run.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press