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High Point-Liberty Clash in Season Finale
The Liberty Flames (29-23-1, 12-6 Big South), unbeaten in the month of May, host the High Point Panthers (19-30, 8-10 Big South) in the final three-game series of the regular season, Friday-Sunday, May 16-18, at Worthington Stadium.
The Big South Conference weekend series will help determine seeding for the upcoming conference championship, which begins on Tuesday. The series opener is scheduled for Friday night at 7 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. start on Saturday. The final game of the regular season for both teams will be on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
All-Time Series Against High Point
Friday will be the 52nd meeting between Liberty and High Point on the baseball diamond. The Flames hold a 27-24 edge in the all-time series, which started in 1974.
Last season, the Panthers took the three-game series, two games to one, at Willard Stadium in High Point, N.C. Liberty won the first game of the series, 7-5, only to see High Point defeat the Flames in the remainder of the series, 10-2 and 8-4.
The Last Time Out
Liberty ran its record to 7-0-1 in May with a 10-3 win over VCU, Tuesday night, at Worthington Stadium in a non-conference game.
Errol Hollinger hit a three-run home run in the second inning and starter Clarence Nicely turned in a strong effort in the victory. Nicely gave up three runs, only one earned, over six innings to run his record to 5-1 on the year. He struck out seven hitters and walked two.
Outfielder P.K. Keller had three hits and drove in two runs to lead all hitters in the contest. Second baseman Kenneth Negron and Hollinger each scored three runs apiece in
A Look at the Panthers
Entering the weekend, High Point will be looking to try to secure the fourth seed for next week's Big South Championship in Danville, Va. Currently, the Panthers enter the weekend in fifth place in the conference standings with an 8-10 mark, a game behind Winthrop, who holds the fourth position.
Third baseman Randy Schwartz leads the Panthers in hitting with a .340 batting average and is second on the team with 30 RBIs. Catcher Billy Alvino paces High Point with 34 RBIs. As a team, the Panthers are hitting .278 on the year.
On the mound, reliever R.J. Chlebnikow leads High Point with a 2.10 ERA. He is tied for the team lead with 28 appearances and has pitched 25 2/3 innings. Starter Ryan Basham has made the most starts for the Panthers (12) and pitched the most innings (63). High Point has a team ERA of 6.16.
Flames at Worthington Stadium
For the past 28 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium their home. The Flames have compiled an impressive 484-223-5 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 9-11-1 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 completed its 2008 road schedule, posting a 15-8 road record and a 5-4 neutral field mark this season. The Flames' 15 road victories are the most by a Liberty club in program history. Liberty's .652 road winning percentage is its best road mark since 1980, when the Flames went 9-2 on the road for an .818 percentage.
This year, Jim Toman's team's road schedule included 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
Liberty is unbeaten in May with a 7-0-1 mark in the month. 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 during the month, including 3-2 in the Big South Championship.
The Flames are 145-110-3 (.568) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 108-82-3 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.
A Shout Out to the Seniors
This weekend seven members of the Liberty roster will be playing in their final games in a Liberty uniform at Worthington Stadium.
They are the following:
1B/3B - David Giammaresi
OF/1B - Aaron Grijalva
OF - P. K. Keller
INF - Aaron Phillips
LHP - Ryan Page
RHP - David Stokes
DH/OF - Garrett Young
The Flames at Night
With its win Tuesday night under the lights at Worthington Stadium over VCU, Liberty has evened its mark at 5-5 on the season in night games.
Last year, Liberty went 4-6 in night contests. Since 2004, Liberty has gone 15-24 under artificial lighting.
The Flames are scheduled to play 11 games at night this season, including six at Worthington Stadium and five on the road.
Last Saturday at Longwood the 2008 Liberty pitching staff set a new standard for strikeouts in a season. Entering Friday's contest, the Flames have fanned 436 batters, which eclipsed the previous school mark of 405 by the 1997 Liberty mound staff. The Flames' strikeout total leads the Big South Conference, and their 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings ranks 33rd in the last national statistical summary on May 11.
Senior David Stokes leads the conference in strikeouts with 77, while junior Dustin Umberger is second in the Big South rankings with 73 punchouts.
Entering play this week, Liberty is sixth in the nation in doubles and leads the Big South with 133 two-base hits. Four Flames are among the conference leaders in the category. Outfielder P.K. Keller is tied for the conference with 20 doubles. Teammate David Giammaresi is tied for fourth with 17 two-base hits. Cody Brown and Errol Hollinger round out the Liberty players in the top ten in doubles with 16, tying them for eighth.
How About Hollinger
Junior catcher Errol Hollinger is in the midst of arguably his best season, as the Flames' backstop. Always known for his outstanding defensive skills, the junior enters the week third in the conference with 53 runs scored and is tied for fifth in the Big South with 112 total bases and with 70 hits. In addition, Hollinger is tied for seventh in the conference with 16 doubles.
So far in 2008, Hollinger has hit a career-high .321 and has already surpassed his previous season-high totals with 38 RBIs, eight home runs and 16 doubles.
Behind the plate, the field general has committed six errors and only two passed balls for a .987 fielding percentage in 53 games, 52 of them starts. He is once again near the top of the Big South Conference in baserunners caught stealing. Hollinger has thrown out 21 would-be base stealers this season.
Flames Among the Big South Leaders
Entering the weekend, several Flames rank among the Big South leaders. First baseman David Giammaresi is seventh in slugging percentage with a .562 percentage and is tied for fourth with 17 doubles.
Catcher Errol Hollinger is third in the Big South with 56 runs scored. The junior is also tied for fifth in the conference with 112 total bases and with 70 base hits. He is also tied for eighth in doubles with 16. On the defensive side, he has allowed the fewest passed balls by a catcher with two and is second in the Big South with 22 baserunners caught stealing.
Third baseman Cody Brown is tied for seventh in the conference with 43 RBIs. He also is tied for eighth in the Big South with 16 doubles.
On the mound, David Stokes and Ryan Page are among the Big South ERA leaders. Stokes is third with a 2.95 ERA, while Page is seventh with a 3.23 ERA. Stokes is second in the conference with 85 1/3 innings pitched. The senior right-hander also leads the Big South with 77 strikeouts, four more than teammate Dustin Umberger, who is second with 73. The duo is also tied for the league lead with seven wins each.
Thunder Storms Force Tie
Severe thunder showers in the Lynchburg area, forced Liberty's contest against Longwood on Sunday to be stopped after six innings, ending the game in a 3-3 tie. The tie was the first in a contest involving the Flames since May 13, 2002, when the Flames tied No. 4 Wake Forest, 11-11, in seven innings. Liberty has had eight games end in a tie in the 34-year history of the program.
Liberty will host the 2008 Big South Baseball Championship at Dan Daniel Memorial Park, beginning May 20 with two play-in-games. The Flames have secured at least a No. 4 seed and therefore, will start play when the tournament opens on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Liberty will play a yet-to-be determined opponent at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The double-elmination six-team tournament continues on Thursday and Friday. The Big South Champion will be crowned on Saturday afternoon. The title game is scheduled for 1 p.m.