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Liberty Travels to Coastal Carolina for Big South Series
The Liberty Flames (15-11, 5-1 Big South) travel to Conway, S.C., for a three-game Big South series with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (15-10, 1-2 Big South), Friday -Sunday. Friday's first ptich is scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. start time for Saturday's middle game. Sunday's final game of the three-game series is schedule for 2 p.m.
Last Time Out
Liberty third baseman Tyler Bream hit a two-run home run and drove in three runs and left fielder Doug Bream had three RBIs in an 11-1 Flames victory over the VCU Rams, Tuesday afternoon at the Diamond in Richmond, Va.
Catcher Casey Rasmus had three hits and scored three runs for Liberty, which had 12 hits in the game. Doug and Tyler Bream each had two hits. Shortstop Matt Williams and designated hitter Marcus Grimaldi also had two hits apiece.
Liberty returns home for a midweek contest against the James Madison Dukes, Wednesday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. The non-conference game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
Following the Flames
All three contests this weekend may be heard LIVE from Conway, S.C., 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.
Saturday's contest will be televised nationally by ESPNU, starting at 4 p.m. Sam Gore will provide the play-by-play and former Major Leaguer Morgan Ensberg handling color duties for the broadcast.
Easing into April
This weekend's series will open the April schedule for the Flames. Liberty is scheduled to play 17 games in the month, with 12 coming against Big South opponents.
Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 345-285-1 (.548) in April.
Liberty finished the month of March with a 12-6 record. The Flames won 11 of its last 15 contests to close 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 359-281-2 (.561) all-time during the month.
Road Warriors Again in ‘11?
The Flames have started the season, 8-7 away from home. Liberty is 6-7 in road contests and 2-0 in neutral site games. Liberty has won six of its last seven games away from Lynchburg.
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.
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 57 bases in 68 attempts this season, compared to 2010, when the Flames swiped only 21 bases in 33 tries through 26 games. Liberty's 57 stolen bases leads the Big South Conference in the category. The Flames' also entered the week ranked fifth in the nation in the latest NCAA Division statistical rankings (through March 27).
Leading the way for the Flames is catcher Casey Rasmus who is 17-for-18 in steal attempts this season. He is currently tied for second in the Big South Conference in stolen bases with Coastal Carolina third baseman Scott Woodward. Radford's Matt Hillsinger leads the conference with 18. 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, four Liberty players have six or more base thefts. Outfielder Michael Robertson joins the previously mentioned Rasmus and Parmley, with seven stolen bases, while fellow outfielder Doug Bream has six stolen bases. Bream, a senior, entered the year with a career total of two stolen bases over his previous three seasons.
Tyler Bream Moves into Career 2Bs List
With a double in the sixth inning of Liberty's 16-7 victory over Winthrop Saturday, Liberty junior third baseman Tyler Bream moved into the Top 10 on the school's career doubles list with 44.
The third baseman, who had the second-most doubles in a season with 22 in 2010, has eight this year. He is currently tied for ninth in the Big South. Bream is tied with former Flames Darrell Manuel (1980-83), Steve Wright (1995-98) and Joey Monahan (2000-02) for 10th on the all-time list with 44 career doubles.
Former Liberty outfielder Phillip Laurent (2003-06) holds the school career record for two-base hits with 68. He also set the single season record with 27 in 2006.
In addition, shortstop Matt Williams moved to within one two-base hit joining the school's top 10 career list in the category with 43 on Tuesday. The junior doubled in the third inning to reach 43 in the 11-1 win at VCU. Last season, Williams also had 22 two-base hits, tying Bream for second on the single season list.
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 45% (13-of-29) of would-be base stealers. Rasmus leads the Big South Conference in caught base stealers.
On the flip side, the catcher leads Liberty and ranks second in the Big South with 17 steals. Rasmus is 17-for-18 in steal attempts.
Weekend Starters Get It Done
Over the past three weekends, Liberty starters, Keegan Linza, John Niggli and Steven Evans have keyed the Flames' success. Liberty has posted an 8-1 record over the three weekends, dropping only a 2-1 contest to Winthrop in the second game of a doubleheader last Friday.
Over the nine games, the Liberty trio has allowed 12 runs over 74 1/3 innings to post a 1.45 ERA. Linza, Niggli and Evans' innings account for 91.7% of the innings pitched during the span. In each of his three outings, Linza has recorded a complete game, while Niggli and Evans have gone the full nine once each.
Leaning On Linza
Senior right-hander Keegan Linza is off to a strong start this season, becoming a reliable part of the Liberty starting rotation.
The right-hander has posted a 5-0 record with a 2.33 ERA during his six starts. He has struck out 35 and walked five, while leading the Big South Conference with 47 2/3 innings pitched. Linza also leads the conference in wins, while ranking fifth in ERA and seventh in the strikeouts.
In his last five starts, the senior has not allowed more than two runs. Linza has thrown complete games in each of his three two outings in victories over Rutgers, Charleston Southern and Winthrop to up his career total to four.
On March 11 against Rutgers at the Keith LeClair Classic, the senior held off the Scarlet Knights in the ninth inning for a 5-2 win. Linza gave up two runs on seven hits over the full nine innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He retired the first 10 Scarlet Knight batters to face him in the contest and did not allow a runner past second base until the seventh inning, when Rutgers scored its first run of the contest.
This next Friday, the Salisbury, N.C., native went the distance again in a 2-1 victory over Charleston Southern, setting the table for a weekend sweep. Linza scattered eight hits over nine innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters and walking one. The right hander's 10 punchouts eclipse his previous career high of eight in an 11-2 win over Kennesaw State during his first appearance in a Liberty uniform on Feb. 20, 2010.
This past Friday, Linza pitched the full nine again in a 5-2 win over Winthrop. The senior gave up two runs, scattering nine hits in the contest. He struck out five and walked two batters.
With a 13-0 career record, the right-hander has not lost since joining the Flames in 2010.
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 Flames 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. With 6 2/3 innings, the senior will move into the Liberty career innings pitch list, tying Kyle Bryan, who pitched 268 1/3 innings as a Flame from 1981-85.