There's something different about hot teams. Whether it's a swagger, an unrelenting confidence, or a kiss of luck, winning teams seem to get the job done. Here are the longest winning streaks in Division I college baseball history, taken from official NCAA record books:
|Team||Year||NUMBER OF GAMES|
That's two teams in DI baseball who have won 34 straight games. That's about three months of domination. Here's how they did it.
Florida Atlantic, 1999
The streak began Friday, Feb. 19, against Bethune-Cookman. The Owls were 6-1, coming off a 3-1 loss to Miami (FL). The Hurricanes would be FAU's last opponent of the 1999 transformative season. But more on that later. During the 34-game win streak, only six games were won by one or two runs. Many of the wins were blowouts, including a 17-2 win over Michigan State — the Owls' ninth straight victory.
Current head coach John McCormack was an assistant to Kevin Cooney at the time. Here is what he said about the 34-game win streak and the group of guys in a on his podcast, Mac's Musings.
"They liked each other," he said. "They cared about each other. They held each other to a standard in the game. They had a never-say-die attitude. It was really fun to be around them. The winning was a byproduct to everything else."
The hunt for each win kept the team focused. Overtaking UCF's state of Florida record 29-consecutive wins (1995) finally lifted their heads to what was happening. FAU had reached the national stage.
"I remember coach Cooney saying once, 'This is real!' and I said, 'Why?' and he said, 'The Washington Post just called me.' Not Collegiate Baseball or Baseball America. It was the Washington Post!" McCormack said.
Then the Owls traveled to Jacksonville, riding a 33-game win streak. FAU (39-1, 15-0 Trans America Athletic Conference) won the first of the three-game series, 13-8, tying Texas' record from 1977. A doubleheader followed the next day, Saturday, April 17. McCormack remembers the day vividly. He was coaching at third base.
"We had runners all over the place, and we could not break open the game," McCormack said.
JU freshman Chad Oliva charged a deep fly ball into right center. FAU right fielder Zack Roper crashed into the wall as the ball dropped. The double scored the winning run. Final score: 2-1.
The Owls went on to win their first DI conference championship and appeared in their first DI regional. Miami ended FAU's season in a 3-2 loss in the Coral Gables regional final.
The Longhorn baseball program is known for excellence. The 1977 Texas team measured up. The historic journey began on the first game of the season, Feb. 18, and extended to March 25. The 34-game win streak even doubles as the longest winning streak to start a season in DI baseball history.
Second baseman Andre Robertson was a member of the 1977 Longhorns, one year after becoming the first African-American in program history to receive a baseball scholarship. Robertson, who's positioned in the first row of the picture above, third person from the left, spent the first 10 games on the bench before Bill Cunningham got injured.
"I was just in awe watching these guys play," Robertson told NCAA.com. "When you're winning like that it's like you're almost unconscious. You can hear the buzzing. You have crowded stands all the time."
Outfielder and former walk-on Jerry Jones' performance in the 3-2 win over Minnesota on March 22 helped Texas tie Arizona State (1972) at 32 for the NCAA's longest winning streak in history. As the score reads, the win nearly didn't happen. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, Jones edged a line drive just past the glove of the shortstop, scoring the tying and winning runs.
Just three hours later, the pinch hitter for Jones, Chris Raper, blooped a single in the outfield in the 11th inning with the game tied at 2. The game-winning hit put the Longhorns in sole possession of the longest win streak in DI baseball history at 33. The Austin American-Statesman likened the postgame celebration to New Years Eve. And the Corpus Christi Caller-Times coined the streak "The UT Magic Show."
The Longhorns, 33-0 and 10-0 in the Southwest Conference, added one more win before the streak came to a striking halt.
Robertson doesn't remember many of the 34 wins, but the 4-3 loss to Rice stands out like a splinter. Allan Ramirez is why.
Robertson would soon play Ramirez in the minor leagues, but his introduction to the right-hander on March 27, 1977, still stings to this day. It took the Owls pitcher 232 pitches through 13 innings to shut down the Longhorns and end their 34-game win streak. Rice coach Doug Osburn was reported to have "brought along a trophy topped by a Longhorn steer with one horn broken off" just in case the Owls stalled Texas' streak. Sounds like a good-luck charm.
Forty-three years later, Robertson's wisdom numbs the pain. "It's always good to win, but I think you learn more from the losses than the wins."