View Full Version : Salve Regina Player Ties Ventura's Mark

03-10-03, 02:48 AM
nytimes.com 3/09/03 (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-BBC-NCAA-Hitting-Streak.html)

March 9, 2003
Filed at 10:49 p.m. ET

Salve Regina Player Ties Ventura's Mark

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (AP) -- Salve Regina's Damian Costantino matched Robin Ventura's NCAA-record 58-game hitting streak with hits in both ends of a doubleheader Sunday against Wesley (Md.) College.

Costantino, a 24-year-old outfielder from Warwick, R.I., tied the mark when he chopped a 2-2 pitch from Wesley pitcher Travis Layton between third base and shortstop for a single in the first inning of the second game.

He slapped hands with first base coach Jim McLean in a subdued celebration as his teammates jumped to their feet in the dugout. Time was called to allow Costantino to keep the ball.

``That's how I am,'' Costantino said of his low-key reaction to the record-tying hit. ``That's how I play.''

Costantino almost had his streak snapped in the first game, striking out in his first three at-bats. But he lined an 0-1 pitch just an inch inside the first-base line for a one-out double in the seventh inning, extending his run to 57 games and keeping the record chase alive.

Costantino made the final out of the fifth inning, but his teammates scored three times in the sixth to ensure he would get one more chance to hit in the seven-inning game.

``I thought the streak was over,'' he said.

He said he lost all his concentration during his first three at-bats.

``I was more aggravated with myself than anything,'' Costantino said between games. ``It seemed like my first three times up I was thinking about too many things instead of all the things that I worked on all last season.''

Ventura, an All-Star third baseman for the New York Yankees, set the mark when he hit in 58 straight games for Oklahoma State in 1987. He didn't know his record was in jeopardy until Sunday.

``I know his name now,'' Ventura said. ``I don't read a lot of newspapers now. I hope he does it. I just know how hard it is.''

The major league record is held by Joe DiMaggio, who hit safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941. Ventura said he is often asked about his own amazing streak.

``People bring it up. People act like it's the big leagues. It was college,'' he said.

Costantino will go for the record when Salve Regina plays Monday at 4 p.m. against Mount Union (Ohio) in the Gene Cusic Baseball Classic.

``I'm not even worried about the baseball game,'' Salve Regina coach Steve Cirella said. ``I'm worried about him. I just want him to be able to do it and get it over with and then have our season go from there.''

Said Costantino: ``I think I was more nervous today because I had 308 days to dwell on it. Now I'm relaxed and I think I'll be relaxed enough to do it.''

The streak began April 1, 2001, against Rhode Island College when Costantino went 1-for-2. He had only one hit in the Seahawks' first eight games that season.

Costantino hit safely in the final 21 games of the 2001 season, then in all 35 games he played in 2002. Against Johnson & Wales last April, Costantino broke the NCAA Division III record by hitting safely in his 47th consecutive game.

Salve Regina opened its season Sunday. Costantino entered the year hitting .459 for his career with eight homers and 63 RBIs.

Costantino batted third and started at designated hitter in the first game, which Wesley won 10-3. He started in right field in the second game, also won by Wesley, 6-1.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press