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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | April 27, 2018

On this day: UVU's Rickenbach reaches base 18 times in a row

  Utah Valley's Jake Rickenbach tied an NCAA record on April 27, 2012, by reaching base for the 18th consecutive time.

Have you ever watched a baseball player who it seemed like it was impossible for him to get out? Well, for a week-long stretch six years ago, that's the way former Utah Valley shortstop/third baseman Jake Rickenbach actually played.

On this date, April 27, 2012, Rickenbach reached base for an 18th consecutive time, tying the NCAA Division I record previously set by Cal State Northridge's Shaun Larkin in 2002.

The streak spanned five games – two against Texas-Pan American and three against NJIT – from April 20 to April 27, when the redshirt senior stepped into the batter's box, dug in and found a way to reach base.

Eighteen times in a row.

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For perspective, the current DI leader in on-base percentage through games played on April 25, 2018, is California's Andrew Vaughn. His OBP is .561, so he reaches base slightly more than six times for every 11 plate appearances, on average. So, take the nation's best player at getting on base, triple that average output of reaching base six times but without getting out even once, and there you have Rickenbach's record-tying performance.

"The funny thing was I didn’t even know about the streak until the at-bat that I got out," Rickenbach said. "I remember [Utah Valley baseball sports information director] Clint Burgi, he didn’t tell me at all, I knew nothing about it. I guess he had told my dad up in the stands about it, I remember that at-bat that ended the streak, I remember specifically hearing my dad up in the stands, ‘Hey, be patient, get your pitch.’

"I could hear him yelling more than usual so I knew something was up but I guess Clint didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want me to press at the plate or anything like that so I could understand that and I’m kind of happy he didn’t because I probably would have anyways.”

Here's a breakdown of all 18 plate appearances.

Date Opponent Plate Appearance Result
April 20, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Walk Stranded at first base
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Hit by pitch Scored
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Walk Scored
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Walk Stranded at second base
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Walk Stranded at first base
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Walk Caught stealing third base
April 21, 2012 Texas-Pan Am. Single Game ended
April 26, 2012 NJIT Double Scored
April 26, 2012 NJIT Single Scored
April 26, 2012 NJIT Walk Tagged out at third base
April 26, 2012 NJIT Walk Scored
April 26, 2012 NJIT Single Scored
April 27, 2012 NJIT Walk Scored
April 27, 2012 NJIT Single Stranded at third base
April 27, 2012 NJIT Single Scored
April 27, 2012 NJIT Walk Stranded at first base
April 27, 2012 NJIT Walk Tagged out at second base
April 27, 2012 NJIT Walk Scored

Remarkably, Rickenbach had another record-tying streak that was active during that same week. He tied Utah Valley's record 24-game hitting streak, which ended one day later on April 28, 2012.

“Eighteen, to me, that’s an incredible thing," Utah Valley coach Eric Madsen said, "because there’s walks in there but the other times of getting hits and doing stuff to find a way to get on base, I just think that’s an insane record. The hitting streak record, those are incredible, if you get a hit one game your hitting streak still continues, which is tough enough, but that many times in a row of getting on base, man, that’s really impressive.”

As a team, Utah Valley was also in the midst of a 32-game winning streak that lasted from March 23 until it ended on May 15. Rickenbach's streak came during wins No. 18-22 for UVU, a five-game stretch when the Wolverines out-scored their opponents 56-9.

"That was a year full of streaks," he said, "I think probably the 18 in a row and then the 37 team (wins) was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of. Overall it was a fun year and something I’ll always remember.”

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The Pleasant Grove, Utah, native ended his Utah Valley career ranked third in career hits and first in career walks, so he was no stranger to getting on base but there was no indication this kind of streak was coming. In the game before his streak began (the first game of a doubleheader against Texas-Pan American), Rickenbach went 1-for-4, including grounding into a double play and striking out looking.

A week later, after playing like he had used a cheat code in a video game that prevented him from getting out, he tied an NCAA record.

The streak ended in the bottom of the third inning in Game 3 of a series against NJIT. There were two runners on and one out as Utah Valley led 7-0. Rickenbach flew out to center field on a pitch he'll never forget.

“I just remember it was the most perfect pitch," he said. "It was a fastball down the middle and I just missed it. I just missed it.

"That’s a pitch I’ll always remember because I knew what was on the line on that pitch. A fastball down the middle, I put a good swing on it but I just missed it and that’s baseball sometimes.”