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Inside the Streak: Wilson Reached Base In Every Game

by | Jul 8, 2023

Read about Ryan Wilson’s streak.


It’s been more than a month now since Davidson’s Ryan Wilson drew a walk and took a 90-foot stroll to first base as a popular 80s rock song played over the stadium speakers at the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

“I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more …”

Third-inning walks rarely make the highlight reel when line-drive home runs and ground-rule doubles are available, but there was more significance to that particular base on balls than most. In that moment, first base was also a finish line of sorts for Wilson, the A-10 Player of the Year and the Wildcats’ versatile, old-school ballplayer who fits as seamlessly onto a diamond in 2023 as he would in 1923.

Sure, Wilson didn’t actually walk 500 miles on the base paths this spring, but he came closer than most. And reaching base for 54 straight games proved to be quite the journey in itself for the junior center fielder.

Wait. Did you catch that? Yes, Wilson roamed center field as naturally this year as he manned first base in 2022. Not that, but the other part of that sentence.

Davidson played 54 baseball games this spring. Wilson reached base in every one of them.

What can he say about that?

“I hate striking out,” he said this week, simultaneously joking and revealing part of his secret.

The numbers
Examining Wilson’s streak reveals a steadiness and consistency, of course, and the sum of what a day-after-day-after-day effort in a lengthy season can produce.

Wilson reached base via 75 hits and 33 walks and the 30 times took a stitched leather ball to the ribs, back, shoulder or, as he will tell you, most painfully, the knee. That’s 138 times reaching in 259 plate appearances for a league-leading .533 on-base percentage, while striking out less than nine percent of the time (23 Ks). His 30 HBPs ranked fourth nationally, set a single-season program mark and took his career total (and program record) to 64.

And here’s one clarification about reaching base. Reaching on an error, fielder’s choice or dropped third strike doesn’t count for this — you have to earn the base. So yes, you can reach base without actually reaching base. But that wasn’t a factor for Wilson, who matched Will Robertson’s school record from the 2017 Super Regional campaign.

Most often, he didn’t waste any time getting on base, and he very rarely left anything to the dramatic.

• Thirty-two times (59 percent of games) he reached base in his first plate appearance, with 31 of those coming in the first inning. Batting fourth in the lineup on March 3 at Coastal Carolina, he was hit by a pitch in the second.

• Wilson had such a knack of reaching in the first inning that three times, he did it in four straight games, including with singles in all three games of the Wildcats’ April series at Rhode Island.

• Wilson hit six first-inning home runs, including a three-run streak-starter in the Feb. 17 season opener against NJIT.

• Only five times did it take Wilson six innings or more to reach base, and only twice more than six. The closest he came to not extending his streak was March 10 against Bryant. In his fifth at-bat, Wilson hit a game-tying solo home run to left-center in the ninth.

• On April 9 against UMass, Wilson was 0-for-4 when he drew a walk in the eighth. He then homered in the ninth.

‘Hard to find’
Admittedly, there’s a little more to Wilson’s approach than simply disliking the dreaded ‘K,’ although a healthy hatred can help a hitter.  

The best ones take action and just find a way to be successful. For Wilson, that means a multi-pronged plan of attack. It’s a blend of pre-game preparation, on-deck observation and in-the-box focus. Then, simply put, he battles.

“He’s talented and combines that with a toughness and competitiveness that is hard to find,” said Davidson coach Rucker Taylor.

Whenever Wilson’s spot in the order is three or four from the plate, it’s common to see the Durham native emerge from the dugout following a pitch and take a hasty practice swing while looking out at the mound, like he’s clearing his mind and tuning it all at once.   

“That’s just me kinda messing around,” he said, with a laugh. “But I definitely think trying to watch other players and how the other team is pitching them is helpful to me and helpful to everyone. You can get that understanding of what the other team is trying to do, and then you can anticipate. But once you get in the box, you just have to compete.”

That last word, compete — it’s something that fuels the soft-spoken Wilson, whether he’s getting loose with a pre-practice game of SpikeBall or stepping in against the league’s top pitcher with the game on the line.

“I like to compete, and I love success,” he said. “So I think anything that gives me competition, it drives me.”

And pretty often, it takes him about 90 feet up the base line.

Date       Opponent         Result     Inning
Feb. 17     NJIT                    HR         1st
Feb. 18     NJIT                    BB          1st
Feb. 19     NJIT                    BB          6th
Feb. 21     NC A&T               BB          6th
Feb. 24     Lafayette             1B          4th
Feb. 25     Lafayette             1B          1st
Feb. 26     Lafayette             BB          6th
Feb. 28     Queens               1B          1st
March 3     at CCU               HBP       2nd
March 4     at CCU               1B          1st
March 5     at CCU               HBP       1st
March 7     at High Point      HBP       2nd
March 10     Bryant               HR         9th
March 11     Bryant               HR         1st
March 11     Bryant               HBP        3rd
March 14     WCU                HBP       1st
March 18     Marist               1B          1st
March 18     Marist               HR         5th
March 19     Marist               HBP       1st
March 21     at PC                HR         1st
March 24     Tenn. Tech        HR         1st
March 25     Tenn. Tech        BB         1st
March 26     Tenn. Tech        HBP      4th
March 31     Fordham           1B         1st
April 1          Fordham           1B         2nd
April 2          Fordham           HR        3rd
April 4          Presbyterian     2B         1st
April 7         at UMass           HR        1st
April 8         at UMass           1B         3rd
April 9         at UMass           BB         8th
April 11         at Duke            2B         1st
April 14         Dayton            BB         1st
April 15         Dayton            1B          3rd
April 16         Dayton            1B          4th
April 18         NC State         BB         1st
April 21         at URI             1B          1st
April 22         at URI             1B          1st
April 22         at URI             1B          1st
April 26         Wofford           1B          5th
April 29         at GWU           HR         3rd
April 29         at GWU           1B          1st
May 2           at Queens        2B          1st
May 4           VCU                HBP       1st
May 5           VCU                HBP       1st
May 6           VCU                HBP       3rd
May 12         Saint Louis      BB         3rd
May 13         Saint Louis      1B         1st
May 13         Saint Louis      HR        1st
May 18         at Richmond    BB        3rd
May 19         at Richmond    1B        1st
May 20         at Richmond    BB        1st
May 23         URI                  1B        1st
May 24        George Mason HBP     1st
May 25         Dayton             BB       3rd

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