Fifty-four straight games with at least one hit is impressive. There's a reason why it's second on the all-time list.
But it still elicits the same primary question from doubters:
Would Florida International sophomore infielder Garrett Wittels stand four games shy of Robin Ventura's Division I record set in 1987 if he played in a tougher conference?
With ESPN's selection show announcement on Monday afternoon, eight teams from both the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-10 made the NCAA baseball tournament.
The Golden Panthers (36-23), who play in a Sun Belt Conference that will send three teams, regularly face teams such as Troy (36-25) and New Orleans (13-39).
ACC Player of the Year Yasmani Grandal echoed what some have said during Wittels' streak.
"This is the first time I guess that he’s going to face good competition, so if he can come through in the big games then he’s the real deal," the Hurricanes' junior catcher said.
On Friday afternoon, Wittels and third-seeded FIU will take on second-seeded Texas A&M (40-19-1). Top-seeded Miami (40-17) and fourth-seeded Dartmouth (26-17) round out the Coral Gables Regional's four teams.
Thanks to Wittels, ESPNU will televise this weekend's games. Yet even with the recent national publicity, it's difficult to find out more about the Bay Harbor Island, Fla. native.
Still, it's tough to argue against the statistics.
Heading into the conference championship game on Sunday afternoon, Wittels held a .414 batting average with two home runs and 57 RBI.
"That’s amazing. To do that is outstanding," said sophomore third baseman Harold Martinez, who has a team-high 19 homers in the cleanup spot for the Canes. "He’s having a great year. Fifty-four games is something crazy to do."
If both Miami and Florida International win their first games, it would set up a marquee crosstown matchup on Saturday.
"It would be nice to stop his streak," said junior left-hander Chris Hernandez, who is 8-3 with a 3.02 ERA, "but we’ll see if we even face him."
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