Wittels went 0 for 3 against Brandon Efferson and 0 for 1 against reliever Stefan Lopez.
With the streak over, it’s doubtful things will completely return to normal for Wittels anytime soon.
He made headlines on and off the field in 2010, first for the streak that helped FIU win the Sun Belt Conference title and won him the league’s player of the year award, then for an alleged rape of a 17-year-old while with friends in the Bahamas last December. Wittels was freed on bond, but the case is not expected to be resolved for months.
For his part, Wittels insists that he’s been able to focus on baseball and that he’s able to “sleep well” in his belief that he was falsely accused in the Bahamas.
And when the streak was over, he came over to the visitors’ dugout to shake Artigues’ hand.
“I think everybody in the country knows Garrett is a special player, but unfortunately, they don’t know how special he is as a person,” Artigues said. “We’ve heard a lot of great things about the kid. It’s unfortunate, the stuff he had to go through, but it says a heck of a lot about his character. That’s a heck of a young man to come over here, as much pressure as he was under, to congratulate the opponents.”
It was easy to see Wittels‘ level of excitement, even before the game.
When the team gathered to run a series of short sprints in left field about 25 minutes before the first pitch, Wittels typically started in the back of the pack, then passed just about everyone by the end. He hopped nervously from side to side at times while taking grounders during infield practice, then clapped his hands repeatedly on the way into the dugout.
The nerves showed at the plate, too: He swung wildly at the first pitch he saw Friday, missing badly and losing his balance.
“One thing I know about Garrett, if he was getting this job done, he was going to go down swinging,” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said.
Wittels‘ streak reached 56 games on June 5, 2010 _ 259 days before Friday’s matchup. He said having that kind of hiatus during the streak was incredibly tough.
Costantino will attest to that. He’s been there.
“It’s the exact same scenario,” Costantino told The Associated Press on Friday. “I waited almost a whole year for two games.”
Much like Wittels, Costantino’s sophomore season ended with his hitting streak at exactly 56 games. The following spring, he got hits in the first four games of his junior season, surpassing the mark Ventura set for Oklahoma State before embarking on an All-Star career in the majors.