AUBURN, Ala. – Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) pitched 6.2 innings of one-run baseball and added a pair of run-scoring hits, while David Coleman (Sr., Richmond, Va.) chipped in three hits as the No. 13 Virginia baseball team opened its season with a 6-4 win over UAB Friday afternoon in the Auburn Tournament, held at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala.
Hultzen fired 6.2 innings and allowed one earned run, three hits and one walk while striking out 10 to notch the win. He earned his 21st career victory to tie for second in UVa history with four others. Branden Kline (So., Frederick, Md.) got the final two outs of the ninth inning to earn the save.
With his 10-strikeout performance, Hultzen moved into sixth place in the UVa record book with 240 career strikeouts – he passed Kevin Shrout (233, 1997-2000) and Andrew Carraway (238, 2006-09). It also marked his eighth career game of 10 strikeouts or more.
Hultzen was 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in three runs. Coleman went 3-for-4 with three singles, two runs and an RBI. He also reached via a hit by pitch. Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) and Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach Va.) each had a pair of hits. UVa racked up a dozen hits in the game but left 13 runners on base. Jamal Austin notched three hits for UAB, while Patrick Palmeiro homered and drove in three.
After three scoreless frames, the Cavaliers put up a crooked number in the fourth inning by batting around and scoring four runs. Stephen Bruno (So., Audubon, N.J.) led off with a double just inside the third-base line. After a John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) sacrifice bunt, Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.) was hit by a pitch. With Swab running on the pitch, Coleman lined a single to center to score Bruno and move Swab to third. Taylor ripped the next pitch up the middle for a run-scoring single, and Werman followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) grounded into a fielder’s choice to score the third run, and Hultzen went the other the way with the next pitch, lining a single to left to plate Taylor and give UVa a 4-0 lead.
Hultzen retired the first 10 batters before walking Keith DePew in the fourth inning. UAB also got its first hit in the fourth inning, a two-out double by Austin.
UAB cut the lead in half in the seventh inning. Austin led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Hultzen fanned Andrew Manning and was then lifted for Whit Mayberry (So., Alexandria, Va.), who got a 3-2 count on Palmeiro before giving up a two-run home run to left-center. Ryan Ussery followed with a single before Mayberry picked him off to end the inning.
Virginia countered with a pair of runs of its own in the eighth against UAB reliever David Hayes. Coleman led off with his third single of the day and Taylor hustled out a bunt single. After a Werman sacrifice bunt, Proscia was intentionally walked to set up the lefty-lefty matchup between Hultzen and Hayes. Hultzen slapped a single to left-center, scoring Coleman and Taylor to give UVa a 6-2 advantage.
Those runs proved critical as the Blazers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth. Austin led off with a single and moved up on a fielder’s choice. Manning then reached on an fielding error by Bruno at shortstop and when the ball trickled away, Austin scored from third, just ahead of Bruno’s throw to the plate which also allowed Manning to move to second. Manning stole third and scored when Palmeiro singled to center. Kline then entered and needed just six pitches to blow Ussery and Harry Clark away on three pitches each to finish matters.
Virginia continues tournament play at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, taking on Auburn. UVa then faces Arkansas State at noon Sunday in the weekend finale.