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Flames Host Bulldogs in Big South Series
Complete Baseball Game Notes (PDF)
The Liberty Flames (29-12, 12-3 Big South) will host the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (20-20, 7-8 Big South) in a three-game Big South series, Friday-Sunday at Worthington Stadium. Liberty will be looking to continue its nine-game Big South winning streak.
The series gets underway Friday at 7 p.m. The contest has been designated the Jeffrey Owen Taylor Memorial Scholarship night. Saturday, the two teams will meet at 4 p.m., with the series finale on Sunday scheduled for 1 p.m.
Jeff Taylor Memorial Scholarship Night
Friday evening's series-opening contest has been designated as the Jeffrey Owen Taylor Memorial Scholarship night, helping to raise funds for the Jeffrey Owen Taylor Memorial Scholarship.
Jeff Taylor was a former Liberty University professor and avid baseball fan, who tragically passed away last April. Donations for the scholarship fund, which will benefit Liberty University students who are enrolled in the Athletic Training Education Program, will be taken at the game. The first recipient of this scholarship will be announced just before the contest begins.
Last Time Out
Elon broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the eighth, and then weathered a ninth inning Liberty rally, pushing the Phoenix past the Flames, 3-1, Tuesday at Latham Park.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger pitched six scoreless innings, striking out five and walking two. Cameron Giannini took the loss to fall to 3-3 on the season, as the Phoenix broke through in the eighth for the victory.
Shortstop Matt Willliams had two hits, including a home run leading off the ninth for the Flames.
Flames on the Air
Each game of this weekend's series between Gardner-Webb and Liberty will be video streamed LIVE. The feed will be available for a nominal fee on the Big South Network. Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary for all three games. The broadcast will also be available on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and BigSouthSports.com.
In addition, Sunday's game may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM. The broadcast will also be available on the World Wide web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com.
The Flames will play two games during the upcoming week. Tuesday, Liberty will travel to Fairfax, Va., to square off with the George Mason Patriots. Game time at "Hap" Spuhler Field is scheuduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Flames will host the Maryland Terrapins at Worthington Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman has the Flames out to their best record during his three year tenure and is just three wins from career win 100. During 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.
Gardner-Webb Head Coach Randy Troupe is in his eighth year guiding the Bulldogs. Troupe led Gardner-Webb to a 25-25 overall and a 13-14 finish in its return to the Big South last season. The Bulldogs set school records for batting average (.327) and home runs (65)
Gardner-Webb completed their last season in the A-Sun in 2008 with a 29-30 record, and made a run to the conference's championship game.
The 20-year coaching veteran has posted 237 victories over his career. He has made coaching stops at Division II Lander and Brevard. In 1977, Troupe started the program at Lander and later, led the Senators to a top 25 ranking. In 1994, he led Brevard to the Junior College World Series, and was named North Carolina Baseball Coach of the Year.
Closing in on 100 Coaching Wins
With 97 wins during his three seasons behind the Liberty bench, Flames Head Coach Jim Toman enters the weekend three games shy of career win 100.
Of the six head coaches in Liberty history, Toman is on pace to reach 100 coaching victories the fastest. Program founder and first coach Al Worthington is currently the fastest to the milestone, reaching his 100th win in 166 games. Toman has recorded his 97 wins in 157 games.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Gardner-Webb enters this weekend's series off a 22-7 win over Wofford in a nonconference game Wednesday. The Bulldogs have won four out of their last five.
As a team, Gardner-Webb is hitting .313 and averaging 7.25 runs per game. The Bulldogs are fifth in the conference in hitting.
Second baseman Daniel Merck paces the Gardner-Webb hitters with a .413 batting average. His average currently ranks third in the conference in the category. Outfielder Jake Watts is fifth in the conference with a .388 average.
On the mound, the Bulldogs have a 6.07 team ERA, despite having the Big South's ERA leader in Adam Izokovic. Izokovic has been a workhorse out of the Gardner-Webb bullpen this season, with 19 appearances, all in relief. He has posted a 1.43 ERA with a 5-2 record and five saves in 44 innings of work.
Friday's probable starter Connor Scarborough will enter his ninth start of the year, with a 1-4 record and a 8.21 ERA. Saturday, Brock Wilson is 4-2 on the year, with a 4.64 ERA. He made his first start of the season last weekend, collecting a win.
A Look at RPI
In this week's Rating Percentage Index (RPI), based on games through April 25, Liberty ranked 51st in the country. The RPI is used to select at-large teams and seed teams for the NCAA Tournament.
The Flames have posted a 13-4 record, including a 11-1 Big South mark, so far during the month of April. Liberty is scheduled to play 18 games during the month.
Last season, the Flames finished the month of April with a 10-8 record. Liberty posted a 9-3 mark in Big South Conference play. Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 344-285-1 (.548) in April.
Home Sweet Home
For the past 32 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. Named for program architect and the first Liberty head baseball coach, Al Worthington, Liberty has compiled an impressive 519-235-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .688 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames have posted a 14-6 record at Worthington this season. Liberty is slated to play 28 contests at home in 2010.
The Flames finished the 2009 regular season with a 19-5 record at the facility and are 43-23-1 at home under three-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Flames Continue Big South Win Streak
With a three-game sweep of Presbyterian over last weekend, Liberty enters this weekend's Big South Conference series having won nine-straight conference contests.
The win streak ties the 1998 and 2002 Flames for the second-longest conference win skein in program history. The 2001 Liberty team has the longest win conference win streak, winning 10-straight Big South games from April 14 through May 12.
30 Wins on the Horizon
With 29 wins, Liberty is one game shy of recoring 30 wins in a season for the sixth consecutive season, and each of the first three years under head coach Jim Toman. It is the first time in the 37-year history of the program, the Flames have won 30 or more games six-straight years.
Last season, the Flames posted a 33-21 mark to record its fifth-straight season of 30 wins or more. It was the first time Liberty had accomplished the five-year feat.
Before 2008, the Liberty baseball program had won 30 or more games in a season three consecutive years. The Flames won 30 or more contests three consecutive seasons from 2000-02.
Umberger Moves Up On K List
With four strikeouts in his start April 20 against Duke at Worthington Stadium, Liberty senior right-hander Dustin Umberger moved into fifth place on the school's career strikeout list with 213 strikeouts.
This past Tuesday, the senior added five more to his total with five strike outs during six scoreless innings against Elon to up his career total to 218. Currently, Umberger stands three strikeouts away from passing former Liberty standout and major leaguer Lee Guetterman on the list. Gueterman, who pitched for the Flames from 1978-81, compiled 220 strikeouts during his Flames career. Mike Brown, who pitched at Liberty from 1994-97, holds the career strikeout mark with 287.
Umberger became the 53rd pitcher in Big South Conference history to record 200 or more strikeouts on March 17 with two strikeouts against Duke. The senior became the first Flame since David Bechtold in 2005 to strike out over 200 batters. Bechtold struck out 241 hitters from 2002-05.
Returning from a medical redshirt in 2009, Umberger is 0-2 on the year with a 4.26 ERA in 12 appearances, with six starts this season. The right-hander has struck out 24 batters in 31 2/3 innings.
Taking One for the Team
In each of the past two seasons, the Flames have set a new team record for being hit by a pitch, and this season are on pace to once again eclipse the record. Liberty enters this weekend, having been plunked 85 times in 2010. The tally is 10 shy of last season's team record 95, which was set over 54 games.
The Flames rank third nationally in the category in the latest NCAA statistics, through games of April 25. Catcher Nathan Thompson has been hit 15 times to lead the Flames and rank fourth in the Big South.