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Flames Head to Wilmington for Tournament
The Liberty Flames (3-0) travel to Wilmington, N.C., for the Hughes Brothers Challenge, Friday-Sunday at Brooks Stadium. Liberty will square off with the Morehead State Eagles (2-3), Friday at 12:30 p.m., followed by a 10:00 a.m. contest, Saturday against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Sunday, the Flames will face tournament host UNC Wilmington (2-1) in the final game of the tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Last Time Out
Liberty completed a three-game, season-opening sweep at Kennesaw State, with a 10-4 victory over the Owls, Sunday. Third baseman Tyler Bream had four hits and scored three times in the contest. Teammates P.J. Jimenez and Michael Robertson each had three hits for the Flames, who had 16 hits in the game.
Left-hander Steven Evans, the first of six Liberty pitchers to take the mound in the contest, recorded his first win of year.
The victory enabled Liberty to start a year, 3-0, for the second time under third-year head coach Jim Toman.
The Flames will complete their seven-game, season-opening road swing, with a visit to Richmond, Va., Tuesday, to face the VCU Rams. The contest will be the first midweek contest of the year for Liberty. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Diamond.
All-Time Against the Hughes Bros. Field
Friday's and Saturday's contests will be the first-ever meetings between the two teams. Liberty has never met Morehead State or Lehigh on the baseball diamond.
On Sunday, Liberty will renew acquaintances with UNC Wilmington. The Flames and the Seahawks, who have not faced each other since 2002, will square off for the ninth time. Liberty holds a 5-3 in the all-time series. The Flames took both ends of a doubleheader from the Seahawks the last time the two met on May 4, 2002, 10-6 and 13-6.
Following the Flames
This season, the Flames Sports Network plans to broadcast over 35 Liberty baseball regular season games and the Big South Baseball Championship, either by radio or video streaming. Nick Pierce will handle the play-by-play duties, with former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace handling the color duties.
Radio broadcasts will air live on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light" and on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com, while selected games will be video streamed live on the internet via the Big South Network. The network is available on BigSouthSports.com and can be accessed for a nominal fee through a link on LibertyFlames.com or by going directly to BigSouthSports.com. All of the Flames' Big South Conference home games are currently scheduled to be produced by the Flames Sports Network. In additon, several conference schools will provide video streams of Big South Conference away games involving the Flames during the season on the Big South Network.
Live stats are available for each Liberty contest by clicking on the various Live Stats links on LibertyFlames.com.
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his third year at the helm of the Flames. In his first two seasons, he guided the Flames to 68 wins, the most during the first two years under any head coach in program history, and best winning percentage (.591) over the same span.
Last season, Liberty posted the most victories in Big South Conference play with a 17-9 mark, since joining the conference in 1992. The Flames recorded an overall record of 33-21 in Toman's second year.
A 21-year member of the college coaching ranks, he served 18 years as a member of Ray Tanner's staffs at South Carolina and N.C. State. Toman was named the 2002 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and recruited 15 top 25 classes, including all 11 of his seasons at South Carolina. From 2003-2006, three of the four Gamecock recruiting classes were ranked first in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
During his time in Columbia, S.C., Toman and the Gamecocks made nine NCAA Regional appearances, including eight-straight since 2000, and three-consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002-04). Add in his seven seasons at N.C. State, and Toman has helped lead 15 teams to NCAA Regional appearances.
Morehead State Head Coach Jay Sorg is in his third season at his alma mater. The Eagles are 35-68 during his tenure. Last season, Morehead State went 22-32 overall and was 12-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference, finishing third in the regular-season standings.
Lehigh is coached by Sean Leary, who enters his 15th season at the helm of the Mountain Hawks and 18th overall. Leary had led Lehigh to a 261-319-5 mak, and was named the 2006 Patriot League Coach of the Year after leading Lehigh to its first Patriot League title and a NCAA Regional berth.
UNC Wilmington Head Coach Mark Scalf is in his 19th year, leading his alma mater. The winningest coach in Seahawk history, UNC Wilmington has posted five 40-win seasons in the past seven years and a 589-460-1 record during Scalf's tenure.
Last season, the Seahawks ranked as high as 26th nationally, completing the year with a 31-23 overall mark and a 10-8 record in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). In 2008, Scalf led UNC Wilmington to the NCAA Regional for the fourth time, earning CAA Coach of the Year honors. The Seahawks posted a school and conference record for wins, with 42 overall and 25 conference victories.
Scalf earned his 500th career win, all at UNCW, with an 8-7 win over Elon on April 17, 2007. He has been named the CAA Coach of the Year four times during his Seahawk coaching career.
Fast Starts in February
For the third consecutive year, the Flames opened the first weekend of February under head coach Jim Toman with three wins. This year and 2008, Liberty opened the year unbeaten with 3-0 marks.
Since begining play during the month of February in 1984, Liberty has posted an all-time mark of 67-32 for a .677 winning percentage. In 22 Februarys as the starting month of the season, the Flames have recorded a .500 or better mark for the month 19 times.
Over the past five years, Flames are 25-9 (.735) during the month of Feburary and have recorded an 11-3 mark under Toman during his three years at Liberty.
Standing Tall in Season Openers
With its 10-4 victory over Kennesaw State last Friday, Liberty is now 24-11 in season-opening contests since 1976.
The win moves the Flames to 2-1 in campaign openers under head coach Jim Toman. Liberty defeated Notre Dame, 6-2, on Feb. 22, 2008 at the Clearwater, Fla. Invitational in the coach's first contest as the Flames head coach.
Flames on the Road
Liberty is in the midst of seven consecutive games away from home to begin the 2010 season. After their sweep of Kennesaw State last weekend, the Flames have started the season 3-0 in road games.
Liberty finished 2009 with a 11-13 final road ledger. The Flames also compiled a 3-3 record on neutral fields.
Bream Named Conference Player of the Week
Liberty sophomore third baseman Tyler Bream was named as the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Baseball Player of the Week for Feb. 23.
Bream hit .700 (7-for-10) in the Flames' three-game, season-opening sweep of Kennesaw State. The third baseman scored six runs and drove in five RBIs during the three-game series, reaching base three times in each contest to record a .688 on-base percentage. The sophomore had two doubles and a towering two-run home run during the weekend to post a 1.200 slugging percentage.
Bream opened the season last Friday by going 3-for-3, including an RBI-double and a two-run homer, while driving in four runs. Saturday, he walked twice, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and scored twice. On Sunday, Bream finished the series by going 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored to lead the Flames to the sweep.
Flames Open Season with Sweep
Liberty opened its 2010 season with a three-game sweep of host Kennesaw State, last weekend.
Led by third baseman Tyler Bream, who hit .700 in the series, the Flames batted .321 during the series and posted double-digit run totals in each contest. Right-fielder Michael Robertson hit . 417 with a team-high six RBIs in his debut in a Liberty uniform.
In the opener Friday, Bream went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a home run in a 10-2 victory and on Sunday, the third baseman went 4-for-5 with a double and scored three runs in another 10-2 win. Robertson drove in two runs in each game of the series and was 3-for-5 and scored three runs in Sunday's win.
The Liberty mound staff held the Owls in check over the span of the series. The Kennesaw State batters hit .194 for the series and struck out 31 times. Flames right-hander Keegan Linza highlighted the weekend for the staff, allowing one run on two hits and striking out eight over six innings in his first outing in a Liberty uniform in an 11-2 victory Saturday. Freshman Josh Richardson did not allow a run in two appearances out of the Flames bullpen.
Umberger Among Flames' All-Time K Kings
Liberty senior right-hander Dustin Umberger entered 2010, his final season in a Flames uniform, already listed among the program's all-time leaders in strikeouts. With two strikeouts in an inning of work during Liberty's 11-2 victory at Kennesaw State, last Saturday, Umberger has struck out 196 batters over his Liberty career to rank sixth on the school's career strikeout list.
The right-hander is 16 strikeouts away from moving ahead of Randy Tomlin for fifth place on the list. Tomlin recorded 211 strikeouts for the Flames from 1986-88. Mike Brown, who pitched at Liberty from 1994-97, holds the career strikeout mark with 287.
Voted as one of the three toughest pitchers to face in the conference by Big South head coaches in a recent poll by CollegeInsider.com, Umberger returns after receiving a medical redshirt in 2009.
In 2008, he led the league with 88 strikeouts and tied for second with eight wins. The right-hander posted an 8-3 record with one save and a 3.80 ERA over 83 innings. He walked only 19 batters for a 4.6-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. After starting the year in the bullpen, Umberger made nine starts, pitching two complete games and compiling a 6-1 record.
The Flames only committed one error during their three-game series at Kennesaw State last weekend, picking up were they left off last season.
Jim Toman's squad set the school standard for team fielding percentage over a season by finishing 2009 with a .974 fielding percentage. The mark eclipses the .971 fielding percentage of the 2005 Flames team. The 2009 Liberty team's fielding percentage ranked 16th in the country.
In addition, the Flames committed the fewest errors in the 36-year history of the program. Liberty made just 53 errors last season, nine fewer than the previous mark of 62 by the 2005 team.