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Liberty Hosts VCU to Begin Final Homestand
The Liberty Flames (30-20, 17-7 Big South) begin their final homestand of 2011 at Worthington Stadium, Tuesday. The Flames will open the four-game homestand by hosting the VCU Rams (21-29, 11-6 CAA) in a non-conference game. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Last Time Out
The Liberty Flames held off a Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs ninth-inning rally for a 3-2 victory, Sunday in a Big South contest at John Henry Moss Stadium. The win allowed the Flames to take the three-game series, two games to one.
Starter Keegan Linza recorded his ninth win of the season, allowing one run on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked one. Relievers Garrett Baker and Dane Beakler each stranded a runner at third base in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the win. Beakler picked up his third save of the year.
Center fielder Ian Parmley had two hits and scored a run, while second baseman Zack Haley had two hits with a RBI and run scored.
Liberty finishes its 2011 regular season by hosting the Radford Highlanders in a three-game Big South series, starting Thursday night at 7 p.m. Friday night's contest will also start at 7 p.m. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Following the Flames
Tuesday's game may be heard LIVE on 90.9 FM "The Light" radio or online at LibertyFlames.com. Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary for the games.
In addition, the contest 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.
Over 30 Wins
With a 6-4 win at Gardner-Webb this past Saturday, Liberty had recorded 30 wins in a season for the seventh consecutive season, and each of its four years under head coach Jim Toman. Its the first time in the 38-year history of the program, the Flames have won 30 or more games seven-straight years.
Last season, the Flames posted a school-record 42-19 mark to record its sixth-straight season of 30 wins or more. It was the first time Liberty had accomplished the six-year feat. The 42 victories eclipsed the previous school standard of 40 set by the 1983 Liberty team. It was the second time in the program's history a team posted 40 or more wins in a year.
Before this current streak started, the Liberty baseball program had never won 30 or more games for four consecutive years. Previously, the Flames had posted 30 or more victories for three consecutive seasons from 2000-02.
Moving Into May
Liberty enters the week with a 7-1 record in the month of May. 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 167-127-3 (.567) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 123-94-3 (.566) in regular-season games during the month.
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 541-243-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .689 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames are 17-5 on the year at Worthington Stadium. Liberty posted a 20-9 record at home in 2010. The Flames are 67-29-1 at home under fourth-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Burning Up the Base Paths
The Flames enter the week with 106 stolen bases, the most by a Liberty team since 2002, when the Flames stole 111 bases in 59 games. Liberty's 106 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.
Liberty has taken advantage of its team speed, nearly doubling its stolen base total from a year ago. The Flames have stolen 106 bases in 135 attempts this season, compared to 2010, when the Flames swiped 57 stolen bases in 80 attempts during the entire year.
Leading the way for the Flames is center fielder Ian Parmley with 25 stolen bases. The Liberty outfielder is second in the Big South and 29th nationally in the category. Parmley's 25 steals are the most by a Liberty player since 2004, when outfielder Jeremiah Boles had 31 stolen bases. In addition, Parmley has moved into a tie for ninth on the program's single season list with former Liberty shortstop Joey Monahan, who had 25 in 2002. Gary Wagner holds the school record with 46 stolen bases in 1983.
The Flames' stolen base totals are definitely a stark contrast from last season. Not only has Liberty surpassed last year's season total, but individually four Flames have more steals than outfielder Curran Redal, who led the 2010 team with a season total of 13 stolen bases. Joining Parmley is catcher Casey Rasmus, who has 18 stolen bases this season despite playing in 39 games. Rasmus is sixth in the conference in the category. Outfielder Michael Robertson and shortstop Matt Williams have also reached double-digit totals. Robertson is eighth in the conference with 15 stolen bases, while Williams has 14 steals.
Baker Has Been Big
In his first season in a Liberty uniform, pitcher Garrett Baker has established himself as the workhorse of the Flames' relief corps.
The junior left-hander has made a team-leading 21 appearances, posting a 6-4 record with two saves and a 3.08 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. Of his 21 appearances, three have been starts.
In addition, Baker has struck out 39 and walked only four batters. He leads the conference with 0.68 walks allowed per nine innings and was ninth nationally in last week's NCAA Division I statistical report.
Over the last four conference weekends, Baker has been the first pitcher summoned from the Liberty bullpen in seven of the 12 games, recording a 3-1 record and two saves with a 0.51 ERA in 17 2/3 innings. He has struck out 15 batters and walked one, holding opponents to a .161 batting average over the stretch. For the year, Baker has allowed only six of 26 inherited runners to score.
Williams Moves Up on Career 2Bs List
Shortstop Matt Williams continues to climb the school's Top 10 career doubles list. With 15 doubles on the year, Williams now has 49 two-base hits in his career, tying former Liberty standout Jason Benham (1995-98) for sixth place on the all-time list.
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.
Williams' Liberty teammate Tyler Bream has also moved into the Top 10 career doubles list this season. With 45 two-base hits, the Flames third baseman ranks 10th on the school's career list.