CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia pitching staff has earned the 2011 InsidePitching.com National Pitching Staff of the Year Award following its record-setting season. The award was voted on by a panel of coaches from across the country and based on six criteria, including earned run average, opponent batting average, total wins, walks, strikeouts and shutouts.
Along with Virginia, the nominations included Vanderbilt, Texas, UCLA, Charlotte and Texas A&M.
Virginia led the nation with 56 wins, a 2.24 ERA and 16 shutouts in 2011. UVa also topped the nation by striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings; the Cavaliers finished with a school-record 664 strikeouts. UVa pitchers walked just 190 as the Cavaliers finished with an eye-popping 3.5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Opponents batted just .213 against Virginia pitching this year.
UVa also ranked third nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (6.84) and fourth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.28).
The Cavaliers’ pitching was key in leading UVa to championships in four consecutive weeks. UVa won the ACC Coastal Division title, then captured the ACC Baseball Championship the following week. The Cavaliers won the NCAA Charlottesville Regional before taking the NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional in dramatic fashion to punch their ticket to the College World Series. UVa reached the semifinals of the CWS before falling to eventual national champion South Carolina.
Virginia has ranked among the top 20 nationally in ERA for each of the last eight years and has recorded the best ERA in the country during that time (3.10). Texas is second during that span with a 3.16 ERA.
Three Virginia pitchers recorded 10 or more wins, marking the first time in program history that two or more pitchers recorded double figures in wins. Danny Hultzen went 12-3, Will Roberts posted an 11-2 mark and Tyler Wilson was 10-0.
Virginia’s pitchers had several memorable moments and accomplishments during the 2011 season:
• On Feb. 28 Virginia was named InsidePitching.com’s National Pitching Staff of the Week.
• On March 28, Roberts tossed just the eighth nine-inning perfect game in Division I history in a 2-0 win over George Washington. It marked only the second perfect game in ACC history.
• On April 15, Hultzen became Virginia’s all-time wins leader; he finished the season with 32 career victories. Hultzen struck out a school-record 165 batters in 2011 and demolished the UVa career strikeouts record as he finished the year with 395 career strikeouts, 105 more than the previous record.
• On April 19, Virginia shut out Radford, 12-0, to record its school- and ACC-record 12th shutout of the year. UVa finished with 16 shutouts.
• On May 24 Hultzen was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year. Hultzen is the first player to garner ACC Pitcher of the Year honors twice.
• In the NCAA regional, Virginia gave up only three runs, the second-fewest number of runs allowed in an NCAA regional since the tournament went to a 64-team format in 1999. The low is two, set by UVa in 2009 at the Irvine Regional. The three runs allowed in the regional matched the mark set by Arizona State in 2003.
• On June 19 against California in the College World Series, Branden Kline tied the school and ACC single-season saves records with his 18th save. Kline was named a first-team All-American and finished with a 4-1 record and 1.88 ERA in 2011.
• On June 24, Wilson was named the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for Baseball, one of the premier honors in college athletics. Wilson had a sensational year on the mound, going 10-0 with a 2.24 ERA.
• On July 3 Hultzen was named the winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player Award, presented to the top two-way player in the nation. Hultzen was a unanimous first-team All-American, becoming Virginia’s first-ever three-time first-team All-American.