May 24, 2010

By Jeff White (

CHARLOTTESVILLE — UVa’s Danny Hultzen, the ACC freshman of the year in 2009, was named the conference’s pitcher of the year today.

It’s easy to see why. The left-hander from Bethesda, Md., is 8-1 this season with a 2.08 earned-run average, and he’s struck out 106 in 86 ⅔ innings.

In his 13 starts, Hultzen has walked only 20 batters. He issued nine of those walks, however, in his final two regular-season appearances.

Against North Carolina at Davenport Field on May 15, Hultzen lasted only five innings in a no-decision. He allowed three hits and one run, struck out five and walked four in Virginia’s 2-1 win.

A week later against Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., Hultzen again departed after five innings but this time earned the victory. He allowed four hits and two runs, fanned seven and walked five.

His coach isn’t worried about Hultzen as the postseason approaches.

“I think Danny Hultzen just went through a couple-week tough stretch here,” Brian O’Connor said this morning.

“Everybody goes through it at some point. This kid’s so talented that he can turn it around in a heartbeat. The amazing thing about it is, his command hasn’t been very good, but in both cases he’s still given us a chance to win. He didn’t pitch great against North Carolina, but he only gave up one run in five innings. He didn’t pitch well at Miami, but we still won the ball game. So that speaks to the level of stuff that this kid has. He might have an off outing, but he’s still giving his team a chance to beat North Carolina and Miami.

“It’s just the command of his pitches. Mechanically he needs to clean himself up a little bit, and I know [Hultzen and pitching coach Karl Kuhn] will do some work this week. He’s an intelligent kid that can make adjustments, and I think that he’ll make the adjustments quickly. Hopefully we see him back to his true form this Saturday.”

Hultzen will start UVa’s third game at the ACC tournament, Saturday afternoon against No. 4 seed Miami in Greensboro, N.C.

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