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Liberty Squares Off with No. 4 Coastal Carolina
The Liberty Flames (37-12, 18-3 Big South) host the 4th-ranked and conference-leading Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (42-6, 20-0 Big South) in a key three-game Big South Conference series at Worthington Stadium, Friday-Sunday.
The series will get underway Friday at 7 p.m. First pitch Saturday for the middle contest of the three-game series is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday's finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. Before the contest, the 10 seniors on the Flames roster will be recognized.
Last Time Out
Liberty pounded out 18 hits and led from start to finish, downing the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 13-4, Sunday at CSU Ballpark. With the triumph, Liberty completed a three-game sweep of Charleston Southern.
With the win, Liberty won its eighth-straight contest and 18th Big South Conference contest, setting a program record for conference wins since joining the conference in 1992.
P.J. Jimenez and Trey Wimmer had three hits each for the Flames. Left fielder Kenneth Negron had four RBIs. Right-hander Dustin Umberger picked up the victory to even his record at 2-2 on the year. Carter Browning blanked the Bucs on three hits over the final four innings to earn his third save of the year
The Flames will play their final home game of the year, Tuesday evening. Liberty will square off with VCU to complete their 2010 home schedule. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Flames on the Air
Each game of this weekend's series between Coastal Carolina 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.
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman has the Flames out to their best record during his three year tenure and on May 2, reached 100 career coaching victories. 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.
This season, Liberty has posted the most victories in Big South Conference play with 18, since joining the conference in 1992. The Flames have also won the most games in Toman's three-year tenure.
Last season, Liberty went 17-9 in Big South play and 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.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore is in his 15th year of guiding the Chanticleer baseball program. In his time at Coastal Carolina, he has led the Chanticleers to eight NCAA berths, eight 40-plus win seasons in the last 10 years, 11-straight winning seasons, and the school's first trip to the NCAA Super Regional last season.
Last season, the 1980 Coastal Carolina alumnus led the Chanticleers to both the Big South regular-season and tournament titles. Coastal Carolina posted a 47-16 record and advanced to the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional. Gilmore was named the Big South Coach of the Year for the sixth time, and reached a personal milestone in 2009, winning his 800th game as head coach in a 9-1 win over Charleston Southern on May 14.
In 2008, Gilmore led his team to a 50-14 record, hosting and winning the NCAA Conway Regional. The Chanticleers advanced to the NCAA Cary Super Regional, a first in the school's history. Gilmore was named the Big South Coach of the Year for the fifth time, as the Chants won both the regular-season and tournament championships.
In his 20 seasons as a college head coach, Gilmore's teams have averaged more than 39 wins a year, including 13 40-plus win seasons. In his 13 years at Coastal Carolina, Gilmore's ball clubs have finished in the top four of the Big South Conference standings 12 times, including regular season titles in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Toman Reaches 100 Coaching Wins
With a 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb on May 2, Liberty head coach Jim Toman recorded his 100th career coaching win.
Of the six head coaches in Liberty history, Toman becomes the fastest to reach 100 coaching victories. Toman reached the milestone in 160 games, eclipsing program founder and first head coach Al Worthington, who reached his 100th win in 166 games.
Scouting the Chanticleers
Winners of 23 of their last 24 contests and unbeaten in Big South play, Coastal Carolina enters the weekend ranked as high as No. 4 in the national polls. The Chanticleers have the best road record in the country with a 13-2 mark.
Coastal Carolina is hitting .325 as a team and averages 9.5 runs per game. The Chanticleers rank eighth in the nation in runs scored per game.
Second baseman Tommy La Stella leads the Chanticleers with a .357 batting average. Catcher Jose Iglesias paces Coastal Carolina with 63 RBIs and 13 home runs, while hitting .353.
On the mound, the Chanticleers are led by National Pitcher of the Year candidates, Anthony Meo and Cody Wheeler. Meo, who is expected to start Friday night's contest, leads the Big South Conference with a 1.71 ERA and is tied for wins with a 10-1 record. Wheeler, Saturday's probable starting pitcher, enters the weekend unbeaten at 9-0 with a 3.71 ERA. In 80 innings, Wheeler has struck out 82 batters to lead the conference.
The bullpen has once again been a strong suit for the Chanticleers. Ryan Connolly, Matt Laney and Austin Fleet have been the workhorses of the Coastal Carolina pen, with each making at least 22 appearances this season.
Connolly leads the conference in appearances, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.54 ERA in 30 appearances so far this year. Laney has been summoned from the bullpen 23 times. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA. Fleet, who leads the Chanticleers in saves with six, has made 22 appearances. The right-hander has a 4-1 record with a 2.17 ERA. He has also made three starts.
Left-hander Matt Rein has also been a reliable arm out the Chanticleer bullpen. He has 6-0 record with a 1.52 ERA and two saves in 17 contests this season.
A Look at RPI
In this week's Rating Percentage Index (RPI), based on games through May 9, Liberty ranked 42nd in the country. The RPI is used to select at-large teams and seed teams for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA publishes the RPI on a weekly basis.
Liberty has started the month of May unbeaten with a 7-0 record, with five of the victories coming in Big South play.
The Flames went 4-7 in the month of May last season, including a 1-5 mark in Big South play. Liberty is 157-119-3 (.568) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 114-88-3 in regular season games during the month.
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 523-235-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .688 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames have posted a 18-6 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 47-23-1 at home under three-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Liberty at Night
Liberty will enter Friday night's contest under the lights with a 4-2 record in night games this season. Liberty is scheduled to play 11 night contests during the regular season. The Flames went 8-7 at night last season.
Flames Reach 30 Wins
With an 11-2 victory over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs on April 30, Liberty has won 30 or more games in a season for the sixth consecutive year, 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.
Flames Continue Big South Win Streak
After a three-game sweep of Charleston Southern last weekend, Liberty has won 15-straight Big South Conference contests, the longest conference winning streak in program history. The streak has eclipsed the 2001 Liberty team, which won 10-straight Big South games from April 14 through May 12.
New Big South Victory Record
With their 4-1 win at Charleston Southern on Saturday, the Flames recorded their 17th Big South victory, the most ever by a Liberty baseball team since joining the conference in 1992. The Flames added another Big South win on Sunday to improve their Big South win total to 18.
Last season, head coach Jim Toman's team set a school record for most victories in Big South Conference play with 17. The win total eclipsed the 1995 Liberty squad which posted 15 conference wins.
Including this weekend, the Flames have six games remaining on their Big South schedule. They have already clinched on of the four top seeds for the 2010 Big South Baseball Championship to be held in Rock Hill, S.C., May 25-29.
The Flames have posted a 31-5 record during the weekend this season, winning their last 15 consecutive contests on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Liberty has outscored its opposition, 327-158, over the 36 weekend contests.
Head Coach Jim Toman's squad has hit .342 as a squad, while holding the opposition to a .260 batting average. Shortstop Matt Williams and second baseman P.J. Jimenez have both hit .400 or better in weekend contests. Williams has hit .407 in 30 games, while Jimenez is hitting exactly .400. He has played in all 36 contests.
A Shout Out to the Seniors
This Sunday, 10 members of the Liberty roster will be recognized, as the group plays in their final games in a Liberty uniform at Worthington Stadium.
This group includes - Zane Bator, DH/RHP; Dane Beakler, RHP;Casey Brown, OF; Carter Browning, RHP; P.J. Jimenez, INF; Kenneth Negron, OF; Curran Redal, OF; Shawn Teufel, LHP; Nathan Thompson, C; and Dustin Umberger, RHP.
Jimenez Garners Player of the Week Honors
Liberty senior second baseman P.J. Jimenez has been named the Big South Player of the Week for games played May 3-9. He becomes the third Flame to win the award, joining outfielder Curran Redal (April 5) and third baseman Tyler Bream (Feb. 28)
Jimenez batted .611 (11-18) with nine runs scored, four doubles, four walks, two stolen bases and three runs driven in five wins last week for the Flames. He had four multi-hit games, including three hits at George Mason as well as in the series finale at Charleston Southern.
The senior scored four times against the Patriots, then went 2-2 with two RBI and two doubles against Maryland on Wednesday. In Liberty's series sweep of Charleston Southern, Jimenez had two hits, two walks and two runs scored in Friday's opener, and added a hit and stolen base in Liberty's 4-1 win, Saturday. He finished the weekend by doubling, drawing a walk and scoring two runs, Sunday.
For the week, he posted a .833 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage. He handled 22 fielding chances during the week without an error.
Teufel on Season Wins List
This past Saturday, Liberty left-hander Shawn Teufel collected his 10th win of the season in a 4-1 win at Charleston Southern. The left-hander's 10 victories move him into a tie for second on the program's season wins list with former Flames standout Lee Guetterman, who won 10 games in each of the 1980 and 81 seasons. Right-hander Jason Jones, who won 11 contests in 2002, sits atop the list.
We Got Your Back
The Liberty relief corps comes off a week, where it recorded four saves. Last week's sum brings the bullpen total for the year to 15, the second most in program history. Only the 2000 Flames team had more, posting 18 saves behind Liberty all-time career saves leader Josh Brey. (27).
Freshman Josh Richardson is tied for third in the Big South with six saves, while junior right-hander J.J. McLeod has five saves. Senior Carter Browning has recorded three saves, all three with three or more innings of relief, while bullpen workhorse Dane Beakler, who leads the Flames with 19 appearances, has earned one.
Over Liberty's last 25 games, the relief corps has allowed only 23% (12/53) of the runners it has inherited to score. Richardson has not allowed any of the 14 runners he has inherited over the span to score.
Umberger Moves Up On Innings Pitched, K List
Liberty senior right-hander Dustin Umberger enters this weekend's series second on the program's career innings pitched list with 309 1/3 innings. In his most recent outing this past Sunday at Charleston Southern, the senior went five innings in picking up his second win of the season, and surpassed Mike Brown on the list. Brown, who is Liberty's career strikeout leader, pitched 308 innings for the Flames from 1978-81. Lee Guetterman heads the program's career innings pitched list with 334 2/3.
In addition, with four strikeouts Sunday, Umberger moves into a tie for fourth place on the school's career strikeout list with 224. The senior is tied with former Liberty pitcher Benji Miller, who pitched for the Flames from 1995-98, also compiling 224. Brown 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 at 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 2-2 on the year with a 5.31 ERA in 14 appearances, with eight starts this season. The right-hander has struck out 30 batters in 42 1/3 innings.
Liberty third baseman Tyler Bream has moved into sixth on the school's season doubles list with 19 two-base hits. The sophomore's tally ties him with seven other Flames. Liberty standout Phillip Laurent holds the program's standard for doubles in a season with 27 during the 2006 campaign.
Bream, who currently ranks fourth in the Big South in two-base hits, is about to be joined on Liberty's season top 10 list by shortstop Matt Williams. The shortstop begins the weekend with 18 doubles.
The Flames have hit 129 two-base hits this season, surpassing last year's total of 123. The school record is 155, which was set by the 2008 Liberty squad.
Bats Power Recent Success
The Flames have won 24 out of their last 28 games, posting a .857 winning percentage over the span. Fueling the surge, which started on March 27, have been the Liberty bats. The Flames have hit .352 as a team during the stretch, raising their team average 32 points, from .299 to .331. In addition, Liberty has outscored its opponents by 110 runs over the period, 248-138.
Over the 28 games, two Flames have hit better than .400, led by second baseman P.J. Jimenez , who has posted a .468 batting average over the span. The senior has 51 hits during the stretch, and now leads the conference with 79 hits
Outfielder Curran Redal has hit .406 during the span. The senior outfielder had a 17-game hitting streak during the span, the longest hit streak of the season by a Flame.