College baseball: Wittels streak now at 54 games, FIU going to NCAAs
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Florida International's Garrett Wittels is taking his pursuit of the Division I hitting-streak record to the NCAA tournament.
Wittels got a hit in his 54th straight game and FIU beat Troy 14-10 on Sunday in the championship game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament, clinching a berth in the NCAA field.
The Golden Panthers (36-23) will find out which regional they'll be sent to Monday, knowing they're probably off to either Gainesville, Fla., or nearby Coral Gables this weekend.
Wittels was 2 for 6 on Sunday, moving within four games of matching Robin Ventura's record of 58 straight games with a hit set in 1987 for Oklahoma State.
It's an improbable NCAA trip for FIU, which lost its first game in the Sun Belt double-elimination tournament. The Golden Panthers went to the NCAAs six times in a seven-year span from 1995 through 2001, yet hadn't been back since — until this season.
It's also been an improbable season for Wittels, who batted just .246 as a freshman last year, including a two-month stretch where he hit .188. Now he's the Sun Belt player of the year, is getting plenty of national attention, has been talked about in major league clubhouses and even has Ventura rooting for him.
To top it all off, he's going to the NCAA tournament, too. FIU won five straight games to capture the Sun Belt title, doing so by a combined score of 60-47.
"That's been our goal since this season started," Wittels said.