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Saturday, June 5, 2010
Hit streak now 56, but FIU season over

Associated Press

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.

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.