Division III outfielder Damian Costantino broke the NCAA record of 58 consecutive games with a hit during the third game of Salve Regina University's spring trip to Florida. It eventually ended at 60 games.
Costantino, a 24-year-old junior at the Newport, R.I., college, singled against Mount Union (Ohio) to break the record, which had been held by New York Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura. As a sophomore at Oklahoma State, Ventura ran his streak into the College World Series, where it was stopped by future big leaguers Al Osuna and Jack McDowell.
Costantino's streak may lack Division I drama but his story has a special small-town twist.
He was an 18-year-old senior at Warwick Veterans Memorial High with a real chance to play Division I baseball back in 1997. He had talked with several schools about playing baseball when he decided to enlist in the army on a whim. He embarrassingly admits a girl played a role.
"I really wasn't paying attention to what people were telling me back then," he said. "I was really stubborn. This decision affected me big time. But I made a decision and stuck by it. I left the army when my term was up. I've definitely learned from mistakes."
Costantino is still a reservist, and though half his company has been deployed to the Persian Gulf, his half has stayed put.
"From what I've heard, I don't expect to go this rotation," he said. "I'm pretty relieved but at the same time, I feel like I should be there."
Costantino's streak began April 1, 2001, continued through the remaining 21 games that year, as well as the entire 35-game schedule in 2002. In the season opener, he extended the streak to 57 games with a double in his last at-bat. He tied the record in the second game and broke it a day later. He continued the streak by going 2-for-4 in the nightcap, but went 0-for-2 the next day against Baldwin-Wallace College, stopping the streak at an even 60 games.
Costantino, an administration of justice major, posted .459-8-63 numbers in his first two seasons. He was 6-for-17 this year.
Despite his age and small-school credentials, he still plans on giving pro ball a chance.
"I love to play the game and I've talked to a lot of people about it," he said. "I know I'm older but baseball is my passion. I hope to play until I physically can't play any more and if not, I'll coach. I'll always want to be around the game."