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Liberty Hosts UNC Asheville for Big South Series
After going unbeaten in four home games this past weekend, the Liberty Flames (26-19, 12-6 Big South) will host the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (15-25, 7-11 Big South) in a three-game Big South series at Worthington Stadium, Thursday and Saturday. The series will open Thursday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, the Bulldogs and Flames will meet in a doubleheader, starting at 1 p.m. The doubleheader will also serve as Jeff Taylor Memorial Scholarship Day.
Jeff Taylor Memorial Scholarship Day
Saturday afternoon's doubleheader has been designated as the Jeffrey Owen Taylor Memorial Scholarship day. The recipient of the scholarship honoring the late Liberty professor will be announced.
Jeff Taylor was a former Liberty University professor and avid baseball fan, who tragically passed away in April 2010. The scholarship fund benefits Liberty University students who are enrolled in the Athletic Training Education Program. This year's recipient will be annnounced in a short ceremony between games.
The late Liberty University Athletic Training professor began working at Liberty in 2000, as the head athletic trainer in the Liberty athletics department. In 2003, he became the Clinical Coordinator for all Athletic Training students. Taylor was also an athletic trainer at UNC Asheville for eight years. One of the teams he worked with during his time at Asheville was the Bulldog baseball program.
Liberty will travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., for a three-game series against the Garnder-Webb Bulldogs, May 13-15 at John Henry Moss Stadium. The series will be the final regular-season road series for the Flames.
Following the Flames
All three games may be heard LIVE on 90.9 FM "The Light" radio or online at LibertyFlames.com. Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary for the games.
In addition, all three contests will be video streamed LIVE. The feed will be available for a nominal fee on the Big South Network. The video stream will also be available on the World Wide Web at LibertyFlames.com.
Last Time Out
Right-hander Keegan Linza capped a 4-0 weekend with a complete game, leading the Flames to a 5-1 win over the Le Moyne Dolphins, Sunday at Worthington Stadium.
Linza recorded his fourth complete game of the season, running his mark to 7-3 on the year in the victory. The senior right-hander gave up an unearned run on six hits. He struck out seven and walked two batters. Linza allowed only one hit during the last five innings.
Liberty totaled eight hits in the game. Designated hitter Justin Richardson led the Flames with two hits.
Moving Into May
Liberty opened the month of May with two victories. The Flames, will complete their regular-season schedule during the month with 12 scheduled games. Nine of the 12 are Big South Conference contests.
Liberty went 12-7 in May, with a 6-5 record in Big South play in 2010. The Flames
reached the Big South Baseball Championship title game for the third consecutive year.
Liberty is 162-126-3 (.562) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 118-93-3 (.558) in regular-season games during the month.
The Flames won their last three contests in April to post a 9-8 record for the month. Liberty opened April by losing five straight games, before reversing the trend by winning five consecutive contests. Both streaks are season highs for the Flames.
Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 354-293-1 (.546) in April. Last season, Liberty finished the month of April with a 10-8 record. The Flames posted a 9-3 mark in Big South Conference play.
Home Sweet Home
For the past 32 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. It is named for program architect and the first Liberty head baseball coach, Al Worthington. Liberty has compiled an impressive 538-243-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .688 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames are 14-5 on the year at Worthington Stadium. Liberty posted a 19-9 record at home in 2010. The Flames are 64-29-1 at home under fourth-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Get Your Running Shoes On
What a difference a year makes. So far this season, Liberty has taken advantage of its team speed, more than doubling its stolen base total from a year ago. The Flames have stolen 95 bases in 116 attempts this season, compared to 2010, when the Flames swiped 57 stolen bases in 80 attempts during the entire year. The Flames' 95 stolen bases leads the Big South Conference in the category. The Flames were ranked sixth in the nation in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, for games played through May 1.
Leading the way for the Flames is center fielder Ian Parmley with 22 stolen bases. Catcher Casey Rasmus is 17-for-18 in steal attempts this season despite playing in just 33 games. Parmley is third in the Big South Conference in the category, while Rasmus is tied for fourth.
Parmley's 22 steals are the most by a Liberty player since 2006, when third baseman Chad Miller had 24.
The Flames stolen base totals are definitely a stark contrast from last season. Not only has Liberty surpassed last year's season total, but individuallly four Flames have double-digit steal totals. Last season, outfielder Curran Redal led the team with a season total of 13 stolen bases. Two more Flames, shortstop Matt Williams and outfielder Kenneth Negron, had 10 thefts apiece. This season, Williams and outfielder Michael Robertson join the previously mentioned Rasmus and Parmley, with double-digit stolen base totals. Williams and Robertson each have 13 stolen bases.
Weekend Trio Getting It Done
Entering this weekend, Liberty pitchers John Niggli, Steven Evans and Keegan Linza have established themselves as a trio to reckon with. The three weekend starters for the Flames have combined to post a 15-6 record with a 2.90 ERA over 208 innings in 30 starts, so far this season. They have also combined for six complete games, with Linza going the the full nine innings four times this year.
Linza is among the Big South leaders in several categories. The senior right-hander leads the conference with seven wins and 79 2/3 innings pitched. He is third with a 2.37 ERA.
Niggli and Evans also have their names on several of the Big South lists. Niggli is sixth in opponent batting average (.227) and ninth in ERA (2.97). Evans is fourth in strikeouts (59), tied for fifth in innings pitched (70 1/3) and ninth in opponent batting average (.240).