Ventura Boulevard: Pursuit of the Streak Continues… UPDATED
By John Helsley
Garrett Wittels keeps streaking. And while we watched with some interest, it’s time to take his pursuit of Robin Ventura’s seemingly unreachable record seriously.
After going hitless in his first two at-bats against Texas A&M ace Barret Loux at the Coral Gables (Fla.) Regional, Wittels lined a 3-0 pitch for a double into right-center field at the home of the Miami Hurricane, extending his hitting streak to 55 – three short of Ventura’s still-standing Division I mark of 58.
While Ventura predated Oklahoma State’s entry into the Big 12, Cowboys fans were surely sending some conference love to Texas A&M, which is blasting FIU, but couldn’t stop Wittels’ streaking ways.
“We’ve prepared for him, and we’re ready to go,” Wittels said of Loux this week.
Well, Wittels was prepared anyway.
Wonder if Gary Ward was watching.
Ward, of course, was along for the ride in 1987, when Ventura charged to his 58-game streak that carried into the College World Series.
And Ward remembers that year – and Ventura – fondly.
“Robin was obviously a great college hitter, Ward said. “Made contact consistently. Didn’t strike out much. Didn’t have much trouble against left- or right-handers.
“To us who were around the program, we kind of nicknamed him ‘The Franchise’ after his first year. He did some unbelievable things as a college player.”
Teams couldn’t pitch around Ventura, either.
That Cowboys lineup was stacked. Monty Farriss, a great college player, batted second. Jimmy Ifland, a first-team All-American at DH that year, hit behind Ventura in the four hole. And two-time All-American Jimmy Barragan was next.
And even after Barragan, it didn’t get easy navigating the Cowboys lineup.
“The greatest advantage to Robin was that was one of the really outstanding offensive ball clubs,” Ward said. “If you pitched around Ventura, he had two cover chaps who were really having great years. They were .400 hitters in their own right. So you were only adding another run to the scoreboard.”
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