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Liberty Visits VCU for Midweek Tilt

March 28, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Outfielder Doug Bream takes a lead off first base in a game earlier this season.

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After  going 5-2 during a seven-game homestand, the Liberty Flames (14-11, 5-1 Big South) travel to Richmond, Va., for a non-conference game against the VCU Rams (9-13, 3-3 CAA), Tuesday afternoon at the Diamond.  First ptich is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Last Time Out
    Shortstop Matt Williams drove in five runs with four hits, including one home run, as the Liberty Flames cranked out a season-high for runs in a 16-7 victory over the Winthrop Eagles in the final game of a three-game Big South series, Saturday at Worthington Stadium.
    In the contest, the Flames scored a season-high 16 runs. In addition, Liberty tied their season-high for hits in a contest with 20. Every member of the Liberty batting order had at least one hit in the contest.
    Second baseman Austin Taylor added four runs with two hits, including a three-run home run. Outfielder Michael Robertson and first baseman Jeff Jefferson each had three hits in the contest. 
    Left-hander Steven Evans picked up the win, evening his record at 3-3 on the year. The senior allowed one run on two hits, striking out six batters over 6 1/3 innings.
   
On Deck
    The Flames head to Conway, S.C., for a Big South series with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Friday-Sunday.  Friday's first game is a 6 p.m. start, while Saturday's middle contest will be televised by ESPNU, starting at 4 p.m.
       
Following the Flames
     Tuesday's contest may be heard LIVE from the Diamond on WWMC 90.9 "The Light" and on the World Wide Web at LibertyFlames.com. Nick Pierce will handle the play-by-play and Doug Wallace color duties for the broadcast.

The Flames-Chants to meet on ESPNU
    The middle game of Liberty's three-game Big South series at Coastal Carolina Saturday is scheduled to be televised on ESPNU, starting at 4 p.m. The contest will be second time the Chanticleers and the Flames have met in game on ESPNU.  In 2009, Liberty squared off with Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., on the network, falling 13-7, on May 1.    

March Musings
    Liberty will enter Tuesday's contest with a 11-6 record during the month of March. The Flames contest with the VCU Rams will be its last of the month.
    Liberty posted a 10-8 mark in games during March last season, including a 1-2 start to Big South Conference play. The Flames are 358-281-2 (.560) all-time 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 531-242-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .686 since the facility's inception in 1979.
    The Flames are 7-4 on the year at Worthington Stadium. Liberty posted a 19-9 record at home in 2010. The Flames are 57-29-1 at home under four-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.

 Road Warriors Again in ‘11?
    The Flames have started the season, 7-7 away from home. Liberty is 5-7 in road contests and 2-0 in neutral site games.
    Liberty is slated to play 29 regular-season contests away from home.  The Flames will square off with 27 of their opponents on their home field this season and already have met two teams, Rutgers and Monmouth, on a neutral field during the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., March 11-13. Liberty captured the event by winning all three of its games   at the East Carolina-hosted event.  
    The Flames went 21-10 away from their home, Worthington Stadium, in 2010.  Liberty posted the 10th-best road mark in the nation during the year. The Flames went 18-8 in road games and 3-2 in neutral site contests during the year. Liberty won six consecutive road contests to open the 2010 season.

NCAA Basketball Final Four and the Diamond Flames
    Only three No. 11 seeds, George Mason (2006), LSU (1986) and now VCU, have advanced to a Final Four in the history of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  Liberty has played two of those schools' teams on the diamond the week before their Final Four appearance.  
    The Flames hosted George Mason on March 29 at Worthington Stadium, defeating the Patriots, 11-2.  Later in the week, George Mason lost to eventual National Champion Florida at the Final Four on April 1 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind., 73-58.
    Tuesday, Liberty will face VCU on the baseball field. The Rams, also a No. 11 seed, won the NCAA Basketball Tournament's Midwest Regional, Saturday with a 71-61 win over Kansas. With the victory, VCU advances to its first-ever Final Four  at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, this coming Saturday.

Casey Rasmus - Base Cop    
    Flames catcher Casey Rasmus has been tough to on base stealers this season.  The junior begins the week having thrown out 44% (12-of-27) would-be base stealers.  Rasmus leads the Big South Conference in caught base stealers.
    On the flip side, the catcher leads Liberty and ranks third in the Big South with 15 steals.  Rasmus is 15-for-15 in steal attempts.

Get Your Running Shoes On
    What a difference a year makes.  So far this season, Liberty has taken advantage of its team speed, doubling its stolen base total from a year ago. The Flames have stolen 53 bases in 63 attempts this season, compared to 2010, when the Flames swiped only 21 bases in 32 tries through 25 games. Liberty's 53 stolen bases leads the Big South Conference in the category.
    Leading the way for the Flames is catcher Casey Rasmus who is 15-for-15 in steal attempts this season. He is currently third in the Big South Conference in steals. Center fielder Ian Parmley is  next on the team and ranks fourth in the Big South with 11 thefts (11-for-15).         
    The Flames stolen base totals are definitely a stark contrast from last season, when only outfielder Curran Redal had stolen six bases at this point in the year. This season, three Liberty players have six or more base thefts.  Outfielder Michael Robertson joins the previously mentioned Rasmus and Parmley, with six stolen bases.

Evans Pitches Way into Record Book
    After striking out six in a 16-7 victory over Winthrop Sunday, senior left-hander Steven Evans has  moved into fifth on Liberty's all-time strikeout list with 225, surpassing former Liberty standouts Lee Guetterman (1978-81), who had 220 career strikeouts, and Benji Miller (1995-98), who had 224 strikeouts. Mike Brown (1994-97) is Liberty's career strikeout leader with 287. Evans is currently third in the Big South with 40 strikeouts this season.
    Also with the victory, Evans moves into a tie for fifth on the program's career wins list with 22.  The senior, who has a career record of 22-10, is tied with Niles Creekmore (1983-86), Alex Dooley (1999-02) and Michael Solbach (2005-07) on the all-time list. The previously mentioned Guetterman won 29 games during his career to top the Liberty all-time wins list.
    A fixture of the Flame pitching staff over the past four years, Evans has a 22-10 record with a  3.18 ERA.  The left-hander has pitched 261 2/3 innings, striking out 225 and walking 87 batters, a 2.6 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.    

Picking Up the Pace
    With new bats and new rules to speed up time between innings and govern mound visits, the time Flames contests have been played in this season has seen a significant drop.  So far this season, Liberty games have run an average of 2:30, compared to 2:46 minutes at this point in the season in 2010, a 16-minute difference.  
    Last season through 25 games, Liberty had already played six games which lasted three hours or longer, with the the longest being 3:43 in a 14-13, 10 inning setback to Manhattan on March 20.  This season, the Flames have had only three games go over three hours, the longest 3:11 in a 17-5 loss in game two of a twinbill at Mercer on Feb. 19.