The 2008 Liberty Flames set several new standards under head coach Jim Toman and his staff this past season.
The Liberty Flames baseball program posted a 35-26-1 season under first-year head coach Jim Toman and his staff in 2008, setting several Liberty season records in the process. Strikeout Record Falls This season, the Liberty pitching staff struck out 508 opposing batters to set a new school season record. On May 10, in the first game of a doubleheader at Longwood, the 2008 Liberty mound staff past the previous school record of 405 strikeouts in a season set by the 1997 squad. During the year, the Flames average of 8.2 punch outs per game. The Flames' strikeout total led the Big South Conference and their 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings rank 26th nationally in the most recent national statistical summary, released on May 27. Junior right-hander Dustin Umberger led the conference in strikeouts with 88, while senior right-hander David Stokes tied for second in the Big South rankings with 86 punch outs. Dialing Up Doubles The 2008 Liberty Flames set a new team record for doubles with 155. The total surpasses the previous mark of 151 in a season set by the 2002 squad. Among the nation's leaders in two-base hits for most of the year, the Flames are currently third in the nation in two-base hits in the last NCAA Divisional statistical rankings released on May 27. Jim Toman's squad also finished the year as the Big South leader in doubles. Senior outfielder P.K. Keller and junior third baseman Cody Brown tied for second in the conference in doubles and led the Flames with 21 apiece. Senior first baseman David Giammaresi and junior catcher Errol Hollinger tied for fourth in the Big South with 19 each.
Games Played and Innings Pitched Fall Too Thanks to their run in the Big South Championship, the 2008 Liberty Flames played 62 games, the most in season for a Liberty team. The season total surpasses the 61 games played by the 1998 and 2007 teams. The contests helped the Flames set season marks for at bats and innings pitched also. Liberty had 2230 at bats this year. The total was 64 more than the former mark of 2166 by the 2006 squad. The Liberty pitching staff also set a new standard for innings pitched in a year. This season, the Flames amassed 557 1/3 innings in 2008, eclipsing the previous school mark of 542.
Taking One for the Team Liberty batters were hit by opposing pitchers 82 times this season to set a new school mark. The record surpasses the previous record of 75 in 2001.
Assist Record Falls Liberty senior shortstop Aaron Phillips assisted on 226 defensive plays in 2008. The total breaks the individual school season record of 175, previously held by Michael Just (2006) and Terry Weaver (1995).
Finishing Strong with Best May Mark Ever The Flames finished the season with a 13-3-1 record in May. The mark is the most victories and highest winning percentage (.794) in the month of May by a Liberty team in the history of the program. Liberty rolled through the regular season portion of May, posting a 9-1-1 mark, before making a strong run at the 2008 Big South Championship with a 4-2 record. 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 regular-season finale on May 18. During the month, Liberty hit .323 as a team over the 17-game stretch, while holding the opposition to a .247 batting average. In addition, the Flames outscored their opponents, 138-70, averaging 8.1 runs per game over the time span. Helping to key the roll was the Liberty pitching staff. The Flames have posted a 3.44 ERA in May, striking out 145 hitters and walking 37 during 149 innings of work. Liberty pitchers also threw six of their eight complete games in the month. Victories Most by First-Year Coach at Liberty With 35 wins on the year, Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman became the winningest first-year coach in the program's history. Toman, the sixth head coach in the 35-year history of the Flames, led Liberty to a 35-26-1 mark in his first year, eclipsing the mark of Dave Pastors, the fourth head coach in program history. In 1998, his first season, Pastors led the Flames to a 32-29 record. 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 on May 16 at Worthington Stadium, Liberty collected its 30th win of 2008 and went on to post a 35-26-1 record. 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. 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. Flames Secure Highest Tourney Seed Since 2001 For the second consecutive season, Liberty posted a 14-7 record in conference play. The mark allowed the Flames to claim the No.2 seed for the Big South Championship, their highest seed for the Big South Baseball Championship since a No. 1 seed in 2000. It is the fourth time in 16 Big South seasons, Liberty has won 14 games. The total is one shy of the all-time conference win total of 15 set in 1995. The Flames played 24 Big South games that season, posting a 15-9 record. Championship Run Leads to Record During their six games in the 2008 Big South Championship, the Flames posted four consecutive double-digit victories, enabling Liberty to set a championship record with 55 total runs scored. The Flames came back from a first-day defeat to reach the title game for the third-straight season. Five Players Named to All-Tournament Team Liberty infielder Cody Brown, outfielder Jeff Jefferson, designated hitter Garrett Young, pitcher Dustin Umberger and pitcher Steven Evans were all named to the all-tournament team. It was the second consecutive season; Liberty has had five players selected to the team and the fourth-time in 12 trips to the Big South Championship. The Flames also placed five players on the team in 2007, 1998 and in 1993 Three Flames Earn First-time All-Conference Honors Outfielder P.K. Keller, pitcher David Stokes and catcher Errol Hollinger reached received 2008 all-conference accolades. It was the first time each player had been voted to an all-conference team. Keller, a senior, capped his Liberty career by being named to the Big South All-Conference first team, while Stokes, also a senior, and Hollinger, a junior, were selected as second-team members. A Historic Night March 28 was a historic evening for the Liberty baseball program, as Worthington Stadium, the Flames' home field, hosted its first-ever night game. The contest between Coastal Carolina and Liberty, the opening game of Big South play for both teams, drew a stadium-record 3,183 fans. The stadium also debuted a new sound system at the game, which was won, 5-3, in 11 innings by the Chanticleers. The installation of lights is one of several improvement projects to Worthington Stadium and the adjacent Crowder/Muckel Field House over the past year.
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