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Liberty Hosts Delaware State in Home Opener
The Liberty Flames (6-0) will open their 2010 home schedule, Friday, by welcoming the Delaware State Hornets (3-3) to Worthington Stadium for a three-game series. The weekend series will begin a seven-game homestand for the Flames. First pitch for the home opener on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday for the middle contest of the three-game set. The series will conclude Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Last Time Out
Liberty remained unbeaten with a 12-2 victory over host UNC Wilmington, Sunday, in the final game of the Hughes Brothers Challenge in Wilmington, N.C. Third baseman Tyler Bream had four hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs. In addition, shortstop Josh Richardson and right fielder Michael Robertson each hit their first home run of the season in the victory.
Left hander Steven Evans ran his record to 2-0 on the year, allowing two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
It is the first time since 1995 the Flames have started a year at 6-0 and is the best start by a Liberty team in the three-year tenure of head coach Jim Toman.
The Flames continue their first homestand of the season, Tuesday, with their first midweek contest of the season. Liberty will host the Old Dominion Monarchs at Worthington Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Flames on the Air
Saturday's and Sunday's Liberty baseball games may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary. The broadcast will also be available on the World Wide web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.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.
Delaware State is led by J.P. Blandin, who has posted a 226-228-3 career mark since taking over the reins of the Hornets program before the 2001 season. Last season, Blandin's Hornets recorded a 19-25-1 overall mark, while finishing second in the MEAC with a 10-8 record. In 2002, Delaware State set a school record for wins in a season, with a 40-19 mark.
All-Time Against DSU
Delaware State and Liberty will be meeting for the third time on the diamond on Friday. However, it has been 14 years since the two teams have met.
Liberty and Delaware State played twice on March 12,1996 on a neutral field, with the Flames taking both ends of the doubleheader by the same score of 5-0 and 5-0.
Scouting the Hornets
Delaware State enters the weekend with a 3-3 record. Like the Flames, the Hornets had their midweek game against Lincoln (Pa.), scheduled for Wednesday, postponed due to weather. Last weekend, Delaware State dropped two-of-three at the Savannah State Tournament. The Hornets were picked to tie for fourth this season in the MEAC standings in the conference's preseason poll.
Delaware State has hit .292 as a team in the early going. Of the Hornets' 62 hits this season, 14 have been for extra bases. Of those 14, 11 have been doubles and three home runs. Senior outfielder Mike Rizzuto leads Delaware State with a .429 batting average. Junior third baseman C.J. Bell sports a .348 batting average and a team-leading nine RBIs.
The Hornets' mound staff has a 5.65 ERA entering the weekend. Freshman left hander Zach Adkins has made two starts with a 1-1 record and an 8.00 ERA. Another freshman left hander, Ryan Haas, has made two appearances, one a start, and begins the weekend with a 0-1 record and a 1.80 ERA over a team-leading 10 innings pitched.
Fast Starts in February
After completing the month of February with a 6-0 record, its best start to a season since 1995, the Flames have recorded a .500 or better mark for the month 20 out of 23 times. Since begining play during the month of February in 1984, Liberty has posted an all-time mark of 70-32 for a .686 winning percentage.
Over the past five years, the Flames are 28-9 (.757) during the month of Feburary, while recording a 14-3 mark under head coach Jim Toman during his three years at Liberty.
Moving into March
The Flames posted a 16-3 (.842) overall mark and started 7-1 in Big South play during
the month of March in 2009. Liberty will play for the first time in March, Friday, after having its game on Tuesday at VCU postponed due to inclement weather. The Flames have 18 games scheduled during the third month of the year. Three of those games will be a weekend Big South Conference series at UNC Asheville, March 26-28.
The Flames are 337-267-2 (.557) all-time in program history during the month of March.
Home Sweet Home
For the past 32 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. Named for program architect and first Liberty head baseball coach, Al Worthington, Liberty has compiled an impressive 505-229-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .685 since the facility's inception in 1979.
Friday will be the first contest of the year for the Flames at Worthington Stadium. The three-game series is part of a seven-game homestand. Liberty is slated to play 28 contests at Worthington Stadium this season.
The Flames finished the 2009 regular season with a 19-5 record at the facility and are 30-17-1 at home in two seasons under head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Best Start Since 1995
Liberty has started its 2010 season with a 6-0 record. The mark is the best start for a Flames team since 1995. That season, Liberty posted a 9-0 mark to begin its season.
In addition, the Flames' start is the best during the three-year tenure of Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman. During Toman's first season at Liberty in 2008, the Flames opened the year, 5-1.
Inclement Weather Postpones Midweek Contest
This past Tuesday, Liberty's game at VCU was postponed due to inclement weather in Richmond, Va. The contest between the two teams in Richmond has been rescheduled for March 31 at 6 p.m. at the Diamond, VCU's home field.
Liberty and VCU will also meet on May 18 at Worthington Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Roundtripers = Wins
In 26 out of Liberty's 33 victories last season, the Flames hit at least one home run in the contest. Liberty had a record of 26-6 when hitting at least one roundtripper in a game.
Jim Toman's squad belted 60 home runs last season, 14 more than in 2007. Liberty's 60 home runs were the most by the Flames since 2002, when Liberty hit 86.
The Flames have started this season out in similiar fashion, hitting at one home run in five out of their six wins this season. Liberty has hit a total of seven home runs, with third baseman Tyler Bream and catcher Nathan Thompson each hitting two.
Starters Strong at Hughes Brothers
Strong pitching helped the Flames win each of their three games in the Hughes Brothers Challenge, last weekend in Wilmington, N.C.
On Friday, starter Shawn Teufel did not allow a run over six innings in a no-decision against Morehead State. The Flames rallied with three, two-out runs in the seventh inning to take a 5-2 win. Catcher Nathan Thompson tied the game with a home run in the frame.
Saturday, starter Keegan Linza was in control during his seven innings of work, running his mark to 2-0 on the year. He gave up one run on four hits, as Liberty defeated Lehigh, 6-3. Catcher Jerry Neufang belted his first home run of the year in the contest and shortstop Matt Williams had four of the Flames' eight hits in the game.
Sunday, backed by a four-hit effort, including a home run, by third baseman Tyler Bream, Steven Evans ran his record to 2-0 on the season in a 12-2 win over UNC Wilmington. Evans allowed two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings for the victory. Shortstop Josh Richardson and right fielder Michael Robertson each also hit roundtrippers for the Flames.