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Flames Head to Big South Championship

May 20, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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P.K. Keller, a 2007 and 2005 All-Tournament team member, and the rest of the No. 2 seed Liberty Flames open the 2008 Big South Championship on Wednesday.

P.K. Keller, a 2007 and 2005 All-Tournament team member, and the rest of the No. 2 seed Liberty Flames open the 2008 Big South Championship on Wednesday.

Complete Game Notes (PDF)

The Championship
The No. 2 seed Liberty Flames (31-24-1, 14-7 Big South), the official tournament host, will square off against the highest remaining seed from Tuesday's single elimination games at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21 in the 2008 Big South Baseball Championship.
The remainder of the double elimination tournament will continue on Thursday, May 22 through Saturday, May 24. The conference champion is scheduled to be crowned Saturday, in Game 10 or Game 11 (if necessary). The Big South Baseball Champion claims the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Baseball Regionals.

The Flames on the Radio
Wednesday's game can be heard on 90.9 FM WWMC "The Light" starting at 3 p.m. Thursday's game can also be heard on the station. In addition, the live broadcast can be heard via webcast at www.thelightonline.com and www.LibertyFlames.com.
The station will carry all Liberty tournament games as long as the team remains in the championship.

The Championship on the Web
All the games of the 2008 Big South Championship will be video streamed live on the conference's web site, The Big South EDGE presented by State Farm. Tournament games will be available daily via the $6.95 Day Pass -- which covers all games played that respective day -- or the $14.95 Full Championship Pass, which features the tournament in its entirety. Log on to www.bigsouthsports.com for more information. In addition, real-time "Live Stats" will be available on both the league's and Liberty's website free of charge.

Flames At the Big South Baseball Championship
This year's appearance marks Liberty's 11th at the Big South Baseball Championship. The Flames enter the 2008 championship having compiled a 33-18 overall record in previous tournament appearances. For the first time, Liberty is the No. 2 seed, its highest seed since being the No. 1 seed in 2000.
Last season, Liberty, the No. 3 seed, made its second consecutive championship game appearance, falling to Coastal Carolina, 6-5. The Flames have been the fourth seed the most often in their previous touranment appearances.
In their previous 10 championship appearances, the Flames have been the top-seed twice (2000, 1998), the No. 3 seed twice (2007, 2001), the No. 4 seed three times (2002, 1999, 1997), the No. 5 seed once (2006), and the No. 6 seed twice (2003, 1993).

Flames Reach 30 Victories For Fourth Straight Season
There are several milestones upon which teams are measured in college baseball. One such milestone is winning 30 or more games in a season. With its 8-1 victory over High Point this past Friday, Liberty collected its 30th win of 2008. It is the first time in the 35-year history of the program, Liberty has won 30 or more games in four consecutive seasons.
The Flames started the run in 2005 with 36 wins, followed by a 39-victory season in 2006. Last season, Liberty won 36 games. At the time, it was the second time in school history, Liberty had posted 30-wins in three consecutive years.
The Flames have reached 30 wins in a season 14 times in the program's 35-year history. Of the 14, 10 have come at the NCAA Division I level.

K Kings
On May 10, in the first game of a doubleheader at Longwood, the 2008 Liberty pitching staff eclipsed the previous school record of 405 strikeouts in a season by the 1997 squad. Entering this Wednesday's contest, the Flames have fanned 457 batters, an average of 8.1 per game.
The Flames' strikeout total leads the Big South Conference, and their 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings ranks 33rd in the most recent national statistical summary on May 11.
Senior David Stokes is tied for the conference lead in strikeouts with 79, while junior Dustin Umberger is fourth in the Big South rankings with 78 punchouts.

Double Delight
Liberty is among the nation's leaders in two-base hits. The Flames were sixth in the last NCAA Divisional Statistical rankings on May 11 and lead the Big South with 139 two-base hits. Four Flames are among the conference leaders in the category. Outfielder P.K. Keller leads the conference with 21 doubles. Teammates David Giammaresi, Cody Brown and Errol Hollinger are tied with three other players in the conference for sixth with 17 two-base hits apiece.
Liberty's total is 12 shy of the program record of 151 set by the 2002 Flames. Keller's season total currently places him for fourth on the school list. Outfielder Phillip Laurent set the Liberty season record with 27 doubles in 2006.

A Shout Out to the Seniors
Seven members of the Liberty roster are playing in their final games in a Liberty uniform
as the season winds down in 2008.
They are the following:
1B/3B - David Giammaresi
OF/1B - Aaron Grijalva
OF - P. K. Keller
INF - Aaron Phillips
LHP - Ryan Page
RHP - David Stokes
DH/OF - Garrett Young
The group was recognized, before their final home game at Worthington Stadium this past Sunday.

Flames by the Month
Liberty went unbeaten through the first 10 games of the month of May, before dropping its final regular season contest on Sunday. The Flames are 9-1-1 in the month.
Last season, Liberty went 8-7 during the month, including 3-2 in the Big South Championship.
The Flames are 147-111-3 (.569) all-time, including Big South Championship appearances and three NCAA Regional appearances, during May. Liberty has gone 110-83-3 in regular season games during the month. In the Big South Championship, the Flames are 33-18, with championships in 2001, 1998 and 1993. In three NCAA appearances, Liberty is 1-6 all-time.
Liberty recorded a 10-11 mark in the month of April. The Flames went 8-4 in Big South play during the month. Last season, Liberty went 11-6 in the fourth month of the year. Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 323-276-1 (.539) in April.
Liberty posted a 7-12 record and began Big South play at 1-2 in March. Last season, the Flames posted a 10-9 record in the third month of they year and began Big South play with a 3-3 record. Since 1978, Liberty has posted a record of 325-266-2 (.539) in the month of March.
Liberty played five contests during the month of February in 2008, with the inception of the common starting date for college baseball. For the first time this season, NCAA Division I programs could not begin competition until Feb. 22. The Flames went unbeaten during the month, posting a 5-0 mark to open the 2008 campaign
Last season, Liberty started the 2007 campaign by posting a 7-3 mark in February, while in 2006, Liberty started 7-2. The Flames have been successful during the month with a mark of 69-29 (.704) since 1976. It is the third-straight season, Liberty has had a strong opening month.

Merry Month of May
The Flames have rolled through the regular season portion of May, posting a 9-1-1 mark. Entering the month with a 22-23 mark, Liberty won a season-high six straight contests, before having a game end in a tie due to heavy rains on May 11 against Longwood. The Flames picked up three more victories in the month to run their unbeaten streak to 10, before falling to High Point in the seaon finale on Sunday.
During the month, Liberty has hit .311 as a team, while holding the opposition to a .228 batting average. In addition, the Flames have outscored their opponents, 83-39, averaging 7.55 runs per game in the month.
Helping to key the roll has been the Liberty pitching staff. The Flames have posted a 2.72 ERA in May, striking out 94 hitters and walking just 17.

Keller and Grijalva Among LU All-Time Career Leaders
With their time in a Liberty uniform winding down, Flames seniors P.K. Keller and Aaron Grijalva find themselves climbing several Liberty career lists, entering the week.
Keller currently ranks second all-time in program history with 802 at bats. The senior outfielder's 247 career hits tie him for third in Liberty history, while his 160 RBIs place him fifth all-time.
Grijalva is currently sixth on the career at bats list with 713. The outfielder/first baseman has scored 163 runs for fifth in the school record book in the category. Also, he is tied for third all-time in doubles with 50 two-base hits and is seventh in stolen bases with 55 thefts. His 231 career hits places him sixth on the all-time list, and the senior is currently tied for seventh on the school's list with 141 RBIs.

Flames Among the Big South Leaders
Entering the the Big South Championship, several Flames rank among the Big South leaders. First baseman David Giammaresi begins the week tied for fifth in the conference with a .356 batting average. The senior is also fifth in slugging percentage with a .564 percentage and is tied for sixth with 17 doubles.
Catcher Errol Hollinger is third in the Big South with 58 runs scored. The junior is also tied for sixth in total bases (117), base hits (74) and doubles (17). On the defensive side, he has allowed the fewest passed balls by a catcher with two and is second in the Big South with 22 baserunners caught stealing.
Third baseman Cody Brown is tied for seventh in the conference with 45 RBIs. He also is tied for sixth in the Big South with 17 doubles.
On the mound, David Stokes and Ryan Page are among the Big South ERA leaders. Stokes is third with a 2.89 ERA, while Page is fourth with a 3.01 ERA. Stokes leds the conference with 90 1/3 innings pitched and is tied for the lead with eight wins. The senior right-hander also is tied for the lead in the Big South with 79 strikeouts, one more than teammate Dustin Umberger, who is second with 78.

How About Hollinger
Junior catcher Errol Hollinger is in the midst of arguably his best season, as the Flames' backstop. Always known for his outstanding defensive skills, the junior enters the week third in the conference with 58 runs scored and is tied for sixth in the Big South with 117 total bases. In addition, Hollinger is tied for sixth in the conference in hits with 74 and in doubles with 17.
So far in 2008, Hollinger has hit a career-high .323 and has already surpassed his previous season-high totals with 39 RBIs, eight home runs, which leads the Flames and 17 doubles.
Behind the plate, the field general has committed six errors and only two passed balls for a .988 fielding percentage in 56 games, 55 of them starts. He is once again near the top of the Big South Conference in baserunners caught stealing. Hollinger has thrown out 22 would-be base stealers this season.

Giammaresi Heats Up May
In the final month of his Liberty basball career, senior first baseman David Giammaresi has had an excellent month of May. The senior has hit .405 in 11 games to lead the Flames. He has also driven in 12 runs and scored 10 in the month, helping Liberty reel off a 10-game unbeaten streak.
Entering the month with a .340 batting average, the first baseman's hot hitting has raised his average 16 points, to .356. This past Friday, he had four hits, as Liberty posted its 30th win of the year with an 8-1 victory over High Point.

Stoking the Flames
Liberty senior right-hander David Stokes is once again having an outstanding campaign for the Flames this season. The Liberty leader in victories last season with eight, Stokes has picked right back up where he left off last year, leading the Big South and the Flames in victories with eight in 2008.
The junior college transfer enters the week with an 8-4 record and a 2.89 ERA in 13 starts this season. The right-hander's ERA ties him for third in the conference in the category.
He also leads the Big South in strikeouts (79) and innings pitched (90.1). With only 14 bases on balls issued this season, Stokes has an outstanding 5.6 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio and has pitched two complete games this season.
In May, the senior has turned it up a notch, as he is a perfect 3-0 in his three outings with a 1.71 ERA. In 21 innings, Stokes has struck out 18 and walked just three batters. Opponent batters are hitting just .162 off the right-hander in the month.

Liberty Secures No. 2 Seed with Win
Liberty pitcher Steven Evans pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, helping the Flames close out a 5-4 victory over the High Point Panthers, Saturday afternoon at Worthington Stadium.
The win enabled Liberty to clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big South Championship with 14 victories. The Flames also remained unbeaten in May, upping their 9-0-1 mark in the fifth month.
Evans entered the 5-4 game in the seventh inning with runners on first and second and one out. After an outstanding diving catch by P.K. Keller on a looping liner by the first batter the left-hander faced, he then struck out the next hitter with runners on the corners to end the threat. Evans did not allow a base runner over 2 2/3 innings, retiring
all eight batters he faced. The freshman struck out three in earning his third save of the year.
Kenneth Negron had three hits to lead all hitters in the game. Keller, David Giammaresi, Aaron Grijalva and Tim Rotola aded two hits each, as Liberty had 13 hits in the game.

Flames Roll in 30th Win
Liberty first baseman David Giammaresi had four hits and two RBIs, leading the Flames to their 30th victory, an 8-1 defeat of the High Point Panthers, this past Friday night at Worthington Stadium.
The win allowed to Liberty to run their unbeaten mark to 8-0-1 in the month of May.
The win enabled the Flames to have four-straight 30-win seasons for the first time in school history.
Giammeresi got Liberty started with a run-scoring double in the first inning, and later, drove in a run with a single in the fourth frame. Shortstop Aaron Phillips added three hits and also drove in a pair of runs in the contest for the Flames.
David Stokes picked up his eighth win of the year with five innings of work. Tyler Light and Brett Curll pitched scoreless frames in relief of Stokes in the victory.