|February 22, 2011|
|FIU's Wittels Hitless, Admits Moral Lapse|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
Florida Int'l University baseball star Garrett Wittels failed to extend his 56-game hitting streak last night but he admits something worse happened to him--he didn't take his base when he was hit by a pitched ball.
Garrett Wittels appears to have been struck on the wrist during the 6th inning but continued at bat after a discussion with the umpire.
Wittels, who has made a point of stressing his religious beliefs by kneeling in the outfield and reciting a Jewish prayer before each game, said he lied to the umpire who waved him to first base after the pitch hit him on the hand. Wittels told umpire Michael Baker that the ball hit the knob of his bat and not his hand. Baker let him continue at bat.
"Worst moment in baseball I've ever been a part of in my life," Wittels told AP reporter Tim Reynolds, adding: "I got hit by a pitch and I was selfish and didn't take my base. Honestly, I'm more (upset) about that than not continuing into history...I really didn't know what was going through my head at the time."
While Reynolds is quoting Wittels as saying he improperly failed to acknowledge that the ball hit him, Sun-Sentinel reporter Steve Gorten said that Wittels "appeared to clearly be hit in the left hand" by a pitch but that the umpire ruled it was a foul ball.
Wrote Gorten: "Wittels removed his batting glove and tried to appeal.
Fans packed into the 2,000 seat ballpark booed loudly as Wittels took off his left batting glove to show the umpire the welt. Coach Turtle Thomas came out of the dugout to no avail."
Miami Herald reporter Adam Beasley avoided the issue, writing, "An inside pitch...ran in on his hands, and appeared to strike him. It cost FIU a base runner, but ironically helped Wittels, as it extended his at-bat."
The FIU team lost 10-2 to Southeastern Louisiana. FIU only had four hits.
Wittels is free under bond of $10,000 on charges of raping a 17-year-old woman at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas on Dec. 20, 2010.
Last night's game was telecast on ESPN3.com. Cameras were focused on Wittels and his father, Michael, an orthopedic physician. Michael Wittels showed deep disappointment each time his son made an out. The younger Wittels at one point hit a sharp grounder near third based but it was caught by the third baseman who turned it into a force out.
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