The Flames celebrate their 2013 Big South Championship. A week later, Liberty appeared in its first NCAA Regional Final at the Columbia, S.C. Regional
For the first time in the program's 40 years, the Liberty Flames baseball team reached an NCAA Regional final. After winning their first Big South title since 2000, the Flames defeated Clemson twice at the NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional to make their first appearance in a regional final in program history.
Liberty posted 35 or more wins for the fifth time in head coach Jim Toman's six years at the helm of the program, finishing the year with a 36-29 overall record. Toman has led the Flames to the best NCAA Division I winning percentage of any Liberty coach over his first six seasons with the program.
In addition, Liberty posted a 13-11 record in Big South play, finishing in third place in the conference's North Division and fifth overall, before winning five straight contests to capture the Big South title. Four out of Liberty's five tournament wins were by one run.
Below is a brief recap of the recently completed 2013 campaign.
Flames Make History at NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional
Playing in their first NCAA Regional since 2000, Liberty reached a regional final for the first time in the 40-year history of its program.
The Flames defeated Clemson twice, 8-3 and 3-1, to move into the regional final against regional host South Carolina. Liberty tripled the number of wins by the program in a regional to three. Entering the regional, the Flames had won one game during its previous three regional appearances.
Liberty received the No. 3 seed in the regional, the highest seed in their four NCAA Regional appearances all-time.
A Glance Back at the Columbia, S.C. Regional
Second baseman Bryan Aanderud, pitcher Josh Richardson, outfielder Justin Sizemore, and catcher Trey Wimmer were named to the Columbia, S.C. All-Regional team.
Sizemore led the Flames with a .500 batting average over Liberty's four games at the regional. The senior had at least one hit in each game and collected three multiple-hit games, including three hits in the regional final against South Carolina.
Aanderud hit .467 during the regional. The senior collected a season-high four hits and drove in two runs in the Flames' 3-1 win over Clemson on June 2. The second baseman's four-hit game tied a career-high. He also had two hits in regional final against South Carolina to post his team-leading 25th multiple-hit contest of the year.
Pitcher Trey Lambert moved to 8-3 on the year, allowing one run on seven hits over 7 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win over Clemson, June 2. The key in the contest for the right-hander was that he stranded two Tigers at third base and three at second base.
Utility player Ashton Perritt recorded his 10th save of the year in the Flames' 3-1 win against Clemson. The right-hander also started his first game of the season on the mound in the regional final against South Carolina and pitched up until play was suspended in the middle of the fifth due to rain.
Wimmer drove in a career-high six runs with two hits in the Flames' 8-3 over Clemson on the regional's opening day. The senior catcher had a two-run double, three-run home run, and a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the contest. Playing in his home state, the Greenwood, S.C., native connected for his fifth round tripper of the year in the sixth inning to give Liberty a five-run cushion at the time.
Pitcher Josh Richardson pitched his third complete game of the year in Liberty's 8-3 win over Clemson, giving up three runs on six hits. After the third inning, Richardson proceeded to handcuff the Tiger batters, holding Clemson scoreless during the following five innings, allowing the Flames to build an advantage. Starting with the second out of the third inning, Richardson retired the next 17 Clemson hitters until a double by the leadoff hitter to open the bottom of the ninth.
Liberty Captures Big South Title
Liberty claimed the Big South Conference's automatic bid to an NCAA Regional and their first conference crown since 2000 with a 2-1 win over No. 1 seed Campbell on May 25.
With the title, the Flames made their first regional appearance since 2000 and the fourth in the program's history (1993, 1998 & 2000)
Liberty became only the fourth host team in 25 Big South Conference tournaments to win the Big South Championship (Coastal Carolina was the last in 1998).
The Flames also became only the second No. 5 seed to win the conference title (Campbell, 1990).
Of Liberty's five victories in the tournament, four were one-run games.
Notes from Big South Championship
Utility player Ashton Perritt was named the Tournament MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by shortstop Dalton Britt, pitcher Blake Fulghum, third baseman Jake Kimble, outfielder Justin Sizemore and catcher Trey Wimmer.
Perritt was named the tournament's MVP after hitting .400 with two home runs as an outfielder and not allowing a run in four appearances as a pitcher, recording four saves. He had two three-hit games during the tournament. In the title game vs. Campbell, Perritt had three hits, drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and pitched a scoreless bottom frame to secure the Big South crown for the Flames.
Liberty received a strong pitching performance by Fulghum during an 8-0 win over Coastal Carolina on May 24 to advance to the Big South title game on May 25. Making his first start since March 19, Fulghum went the full seven innings, scattering seven hits. Due t
the Flames' win earlier in the day, the Big South Conference's if necessary game is a predetermined seven-inning contest.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Sizemore hit his second home run of the season to help avoid elimination with a 3-2 win over Radford, May 23.
Britt hit his first two home runs of the season, with the first coming in an 8-0 win over Coastal Carolina to advance to the title contest, and the second in Liberty's 2-1 victory over Campbell in the title game. Both were solo home runs.
Kimble drove in a career-high three runs with two hits and a double in Liberty's 9-8 win over Coastal Carolina, May 24.
Wimmer went 3-for-3 with a solo home run in a 2-1 win over Charleston Southern in an elimination game, May 22. The catcher hit .318, scored five runs and threw out three out of four runners trying to steal during the tournament. He also picked two runners off base.
Pitcher Josh Richardson pitched eight innings in each of his two starts during the Big South Tournament. He went eight innings in a 6-3 loss to Radford to begin the tournament on May 21 and allowed one run in eight innings in a 2-1 win over Campbell in the title game, May 25.
Four Flames Taken in MLB Draft
Liberty had four players taken in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft, concluded on June 8.
Outfielder Ryan Cordell was selected in the 11th round by the Texas Rangers, while catcher Trey Wimmer was chosen in the 23rd round by the Chicago White Sox. Pitcher Josh Richardson was selected in the 26th round by the San Diego Padres and pitcher Danny Grauer was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 38th round.
Liberty has had three or more players chosen in each of the last three MLB Drafts. In 2011, seven Flames were selected, setting a Big South Conference and program record.
With the selection of four Flames in this year's draft, Liberty has had 53 players selected in the MLB Draft during the 40-year history of its program.
The Flames have had a player chosen in each draft since 2000 and have had 14 players taken in the past three years.
Liberty Baseball Stadium - the New Home of Flames Baseball
After 34 years of playing at Worthington Stadium, the Flames christened the new on-campus baseball facility in 2013.
Liberty opened the new Liberty Baseball Stadium with a three-game sweep of Penn State, Feb. 23-24. The Flames went on to win their first seven games at the stadium.
The Flames posted a 25-9 mark in their first season at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Liberty won its first Big South Baseball Championship since 2000 at its new facility. The stadium served as the host site for the conference tournament. The Flames became only the fourth host team in 25 Big South Conference tournaments to win the Big South Baseball Championship.
When completed in June, the stadium will have 2,500 chairback seats, a state-of-the-art AstroTurf playing field, an operations center for the baseball program and a fully functional press area.
Liberty Reaches New Milestones in a Campaign
With their run to the NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional final, the Flames played 65 games, the most in a season in school history. This season's total eclipsed the 62 games played by the 2008 Flames.
Liberty pitchers also compiled 567 1/3 innings pitched. The total is also is the most in program history, once again eclipsing the 557 1/3 innings of the 2008 team.
To go along with the most games, the Flames recorded a new team record of 1,702 putouts.
Flames Continue Strong Defensive Effort
Over the past five seasons, the Flames have proved the old baseball adage that pitching and defense win games.
Liberty posted a .972 fielding percentage in 2013, three percentage points lower than the school record of .975 set in 2012.
The Flames have posted a .971 or better fielding percentage in four out the five seasons. The only season during the stretch that Liberty didn't have a .970 or better percentage was in 2011 when the Flames posted a .968 fielding percentage.
As a team, opponents had only 51 percent stolen base success rate and swiped 27 bases, the fewest stolen bases in the past nine years.
Catcher Trey Wimmer led the base path defense, throwing out 25 runners attempting to steal to lead the Big South in 2013. He caught 51 percent of would-be base stealers attempting to steal.
Toman Guides Flames to Best Division I Mark Over First Six Years
With a .619 winning percentage, head coach Jim Toman's Flames have posted the highest NCAA Division I winning percentage of any head coach during his first six years at Liberty. Toman has guided the Flames to a 223-137-1 during his tenure.
Liberty has posted 35 or more wins in five of its six seasons under Toman.
Toman guided the Flames to the first program's first Big South Championship since 2000 and Liberty's first appearance in a NCAA Regional final this season.
In December, Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.com selected Toman as one of 10 Collegiate Head Coaches on the Rise.
Richardson, Roy Finish Career on All-time ERA List
Right-handers Josh Richardson and Brooks Roy finished their time in Liberty uniforms on the program's career lowest ERA list.
Richardson, who signed a minor league contract after being drafted by the San Diego Padres, posted a 3.05 ERA over his four seasons at Liberty. The mark ranks third on the school's all-time list (min. 100 innings pitched).
Richardson was 5-6 with 10 saves over 115 innings during his Flames career. His 10 saves rank fourth on Liberty's career listing. Used mainly as a relief pitcher for most of his time at Liberty, he appeared in 48 games and made nine starts.
Roy, a senior in 2013, finished with a 3.08 career ERA in two seasons at Liberty. The right-hander's ERA places fifth among the program's all-time leaders.
In 30 appearances, 22 of which were starts, Roy posted an 11-6 record over 131 2/3 innings.
Three Flames Put Names on Season Lists
Outfielder Ryan Cordell, pitcher Josh Richardson and pitcher Ashton Perritt each placed their name on the program's season records lists in 2013
Cordell led Liberty with 28 stolen bases to rank seventh on the Flames all-time list. He finished the year second in the Big South in stolen bases.
Richardson led the Flames with team-low 2.40 ERA, the sixth lowest in program history. The right-hander's ERA was the sixth lowest in the Big South Conference.
Perritt finished the year with 10 saves, the second most by a Liberty pitcher in a season. His save total tied him for second in the conference
Wimmer Goes Out in Style
Two-time team captain Trey Wimmer finished his Liberty career with his best season in 2013.
The catcher was selected in the 23rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
Wimmer finished his Liberty career tied for sixth on the school's all-time doubles list with 50.
He also played in 235 games, the most of any Flame in the history of the program, and finished second in school history with 810 at bats. Wimmer played first base and catcher during his four years.
This year, the senior was a member of the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The award honors annually the nation's top collegiate catcher based on athletic ability, sportsmanship, team leadership and character.
The catcher was named to the Big South All-Conference first team, the Big South All-Tournament team and the NCAA Columbia, S.C. All-Regional team in 2013. He was also selected the Big South Player of Week for Feb. 18-24, this season.
2B Bryan Aanderud continued to be a consistent presence in the Liberty lineup in 2013.
Since joining the Liberty roster in 2012, the senior started every game at second base and was among the team leaders in batting average, hits and RBIs.
Aanderud, a senior, led the Flames in batting average, hits and on base percentage during each of his two seasons at Liberty. This past season, the infielder posted a .329 batting average, 83 hits and .404 on base percentage.
He finished his time in a Flames uniform with a .347 career batting average, the highest by a Liberty player since 2004.
In his final season, Aanderud earned his second Big South All-Conference second team selection and was named to the 2013 NCAA Columbia, S.C. All-Regional team.
Perritt Breaks Out
Sophomore utility player Ashton Perritt had a breakout year in 2013.
After starting the year as a relief pitcher, Perritt made his first start in the outfield in game one of the doubleheader with Longwood on March 30 and quickly became a fixture of the Liberty outfield.
In 40 games in the field, the sophomore hit .343 with 34 runs scored and 18 stolen bases to solidify his position atop the Flames' batting order. He also hit six home runs.
Perritt posted 20 multiple-hit games, including seven three-hit games, and scored two or more runs in nine contests.
On the mound, Perritt went 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 10 saves over 38 2/3 innings. His 10 saves rank second on Liberty's single season list.
Perritt was named the 2013 Big South Tournament MVP. During Liberty's run to the title, he hit .400 with two home runs as an outfielder and did not allow a run in four appearances as a pitcher, recording four saves. He was selected the utility player on the All-Tournament team.
In the title game vs. Campbell, Perritt drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and then pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to secure the Big South crown for the Flames.
2013 Liberty Award Winners
Johnny Bench Watch List Trey Wimmer
NCAA Columbia, S.C. All-Regional Bryan Aanderud, second baseman Justin Sizemore, outfield Josh Richardson, pitcher Trey Wimmer, catcher
Big South All-Conference Trey Wimmer, first team, catcher Bryan Aanderud, second team, second base Big South All-Academic Trey Lambert
Big South Tournament MVP Ashton Perritt, utility
Big South All-Tournament Dalton Britt, shortstop Blake Fulghum, pitcher Jake Kimble, third base Ashton Perritt, utility Justin Sizemore, outfield Trey Wimmer, catcher
Big South Player of the Week Ryan Cordell (Feb.17-19) Trey Wimmer (Feb. 18-24) Alex Close (Apr. 22-28)
Big South Pitcher of the Week Trey Lambert (April 15-21)
ECAC Player of the Week Alex Close (Apr. 22-28)
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