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Liberty Visits Charleston Southern
The Liberty Flames (22-23, 9-6 Big South) travel to Charleston, S.C., for their final conference road weekend series against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (15-25, 4-8 Big South). The three-game series begins Saturday with a single game scheduled for 3 p.m. at Buccaneer Field. Sunday, the two squads will close out the series with a doubleheader. The twinbill is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
All-Time Series Against Charleston Southern
Saturday will be the 52nd meeting between the Flames and the Buccaneers on the diamond. Liberty leads the all-time series since 1977 between the two squads, 31-20. The Flames have won eight of the last 10 meetings. Last season, Liberty took two of the three games from Charleston Southern at Worthington Stadium in Lynchburg. The Flames split a doubleheader with the Buccaneers on the opening day of the series, April 13. Liberty downed Charleston Southern 4-2 in the first game, while dropping the second game, 6-4. The following afternoon, the Flames defeated the Buccaneers, 8-4.
The Last Time Out
George Mason pushed across a run in the 11th inning, sending the Patriots past the Liberty Flames, 7-6, Wednesday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. Liberty center fielder Tim Rotola led all hitters in the contest with four hits and three stolen bases. Second baseman Kenneth Negron had three hits in the game for the Flames.
A Look at the Buccaneers
After dropping a 7-2 decision to Savannah St. Thursday, Charleston Southern enters the weekend at 15-25 overall and 4-8 in the Big South.
The Buccaneers are hitting .308 as a team and have five players with batting averages above .330. Designated hitter Derek Smith tops Charleston Southern with a .357 average. He currently ranks fourth in the Big South in batting average. The designated hitter also leads the Buccaneers with 37 RBIs, which rank him seventh in the conference. Teammate Steve Antolik joins Smith with an above .350 average. The left fielder enters the weekend with a .353 average and 30 RBIs.
On the mound, Charleston Southern has posted a 5.68 ERA. The Buccaneer mound staff is led by Peyton Tweddale, who has made 20 appearances with a 2-3 record and a 2.84 ERA. Starter Andrew White is second on the team with a 3.18 ERA and leads Charleston Southern with 62 1/3 innings pitched.
Following the Flames
Radio broadcasts of the three-game series will not be available this weekend. However, live stats will be available for each Liberty contest through Liberty Flames.com.
Flames at Worthington Stadium
For the past 28 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium their home. The Flames have compiled an impressive 483-223-4 record at the facility for a winning percentage of .683 since the stadium's inception in 1979.
This year, the Flames are slated to play 24 home games at the stadium. Liberty has posted a 8-12 record at Worthington, so far this season.
The slate of home games includes the first night contests in the history of the stadium. March 28 was the first night contest ever at the stadium, and nine contests currently are scheduled to be played under the lights.
Last season, Liberty went 23-9 at Worthington. The 23 wins tie for the third most by the Flames in a season at the facility.
Liberty on the Road
Liberty has posted a 9-8 road record and a 5-4 neutral field mark this season.
This year, Liberty is scheduled to play 23 contests on the road, plus nine on neutral fields. Jim Toman's team's road schedule includes two tournaments. The first was in Clearwater, Fla., which opened the season, followed by The Coca-Cola Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss., March 14-15.
Last season, Liberty posted a 10-15 road record, plus a 3-1 mark on neutral fields.
Flames by the Month
Saturday's contest with Charleston Southern will be the first game in the month of May for the Flames. Liberty will play 11 regular-season contests during the final month of the season and participate in the 2008 Big South Baseball Championship in Danville, Va. Last season, Liberty went 8-7 in the month, including 3-2 in the Big South Championship.
The Flames are 138-110-2 (.556) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 101-82-2 in regular season games during the month. In the Big South Championship, the Flames are 36-22, with championships in 2001, 1998 and 1993. In three NCAA appearances, Liberty is 1-6 all-time.
Liberty recorded a 10-11 mark in the month of April. The Flames went 8-4 in Big South play during the month. Last season, Liberty went 11-6 in the fourth month of the year. Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 323-276-1 (.539) in April.
Liberty posted a 7-12 record and began Big South play at 1-2 in March. Last season, the Flames posted a 10-9 record in the third month of they year and began Big South play with a 3-3 record. Since 1978, Liberty has posted a record of 325-266-2 (.539) in the month of March.
Liberty played five contests during the month of February in 2008, with the inception of the common starting date for college baseball. For the first time this season, NCAA Division I programs could not begin competition until Feb. 22. The Flames went unbeaten during the month, posting a 5-0 mark to open the 2008 campaign
Last season, Liberty started the 2007 campaign by posting a 7-3 mark in February, while in 2006, Liberty started 7-2. The Flames have been successful during the month with a mark of 69-29 (.704) since 1976. It is the third-straight season, Liberty has had a strong opening month.
Keller and Grijalva Among LU All-time Leaders
With their time in a Liberty uniform winding down, Flames seniors P.K. Keller and Aaron Grijalva find themselves climbing several Liberty career lists, entering the weekend.
Keller finds himself third all-time in program history with 759 at bats. The senior outfielder's 231 career hits are sixth in Liberty history, while his 155 RBIs rank him sixth all-time. In addition, the outfielder has played in 209 games as a Flame, 14 games shy of the Liberty all-time mark of 223 by Steve Baker, who played for the Flames from 1999-2002.
Grijalva is currently tied for seventh on the career at bats list with 679. The outfielder/first baseman has scored 156 runs to list seventh in the school record book in the category. Also, he ranks sixth in both doubles, with 47 two-base hits, and stolen bases, with 55 thefts. Grijalva is eighth on the career lists of hits and RBIs, with 222 and 130 ,respectively.
Entering play this weekend, Liberty leads the Big South in doubles with 115 two-base hits. A trio of Flames are among the conference leaders in the category. Outfielder P. K. Keller paces the conference with 17 doubles. Teammate David Giammaresi is tied for fifth with 15 two-base hits. Cody Brown is the third Liberty player in the top ten in doubles with 14, tying him for seventh.
A Look Ahead
Next week, Liberty travels to Blacksburg, Va., to sqaure off with the Virginia Tech Hokies in its lone midweek contest on Wednesday. Game time at English Field is scheduled for 7 p.m. On the weekend, the Flames will play Longwood in a three-game non-conference series. Saturday, the two sqauds will square off in a doubleheader in Farmville, Va., beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, the Lancers will visit Worthington Stadium for a single contest with the Flames, starting at 1 p.m.