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Flames Visit James Madison, North Carolina

February 24, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Senior outfielder Tim Rotola and the Flames visit James Madison and No.1 North Carolina for midweek contests, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Senior outfielder Tim Rotola and the Flames visit James Madison and No.1 North Carolina for midweek contests, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Complete Game Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (3-1, 0-0 Big South) travel to Harrisonburg, Va., Tuesday, for the first of three midweek contests with the James Madison Dukes (1-3, 0-0 CAA) this season. First pitch at Long Field/Mauck Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Flames visit Chapel Hill, N.C., to square off with the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0, 0-0 ACC).Game time is schedule for 3 p.m.

What to Watch
After capturing the 2009 Coca-Cola Classic title with a 3-1 mark this past weekend, Liberty will look to extend its three game winning streak, as the Flames play their first midweek contests of the year. Liberty was one of several other teams receiving votes in this week's NCBWA Division I Baseball poll.
The Flames' starting nine returns catcher Errol Hollinger, infi elder Cody Brown and outfielder Jeff Jefferson from last year's line-up. Hollinger, who is starting behind the plate for the fourth consecutive season, has been named to the 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch list. The catcher hit two home runs this past Saturday in 5-2 and 4-3 (10inning) wins over South Alabama. Freshman third baseman Tyler Bream and Jefferson had a hit in each of Liberty's fi rst four games. Four of Bream's six hits have been doubles.
Jefferson has collected a team-high seven hits, including a home run. Tuesday's opponent, James Madison, returns six position starters from last year's NCAA Regional team, which went 39-19. The Dukes posted a 1-3 mark last weekend at the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Conway, S.C. James Madison defeated No. 22 Coastal Carolina, the tournament host on the fi nal day of the tournament, 8-6. Shortstop David Herbek is batting .500 through his fi rst four games, as the sophomore has collected eight hits.
On Wednesday, the NCBWA's No. 1-ranked team North Carolina returns five position starters from 2008 College World Series participant, led by 2008 All-America and 2009 Preseason All-America first baseman Dustin Ackley. The Tar Heels, who posted a 54-14 mark in 2008, opened their 2009 season with a three-game sweep of VMI this past weekend. Ackley enters the week, hitting .692 through the Tar Heels first three contests. Designated hitter Mark Fluery and third baseman Kyle Seager also sport above .460 averages in the early going.

A Look at

James Madison

North Carolina

Roster

 Roster

Schedule

 Schedule

Statistics

Statistics

Web Site

Web Site



The Coaches
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his second year at the helm of the Flames. In this fi rst season at Liberty, he guided the Flames to a 35-26-1 mark, the best record by a Liberty team under a fi rst-year coach in program history.
A 20-year member of the college coaching ranks, he served 18 years as a member of Ray Tanner's staffs at South Carolina and N.C. State. Toman was named the 2002 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and recruited 15 top 25 classes, including all 11 of his seasons at South Carolina. From 2003-2006, three of the four Gamecock recruiting classes were ranked first in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
During his time in Columbia, S.C., Toman and the Gamecocks made nine NCAA Regional appearances, including eight-straight since 2000, and three-consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002-04). Add in his seven seasons at N.C. State, and Toman has helped lead 15 teams to NCAA Regional appearances.
Joe "Spanky" McFarland is in his 12th season as the skipper of the James Madison Dukes. In 11 seasons, he has guided the Dukes to seven NCAA Regional appearances, including last season. In 2008, McFarland led James Madison to the CAA title and a 39-19 record. The Dukes have won 35 or more games six times during McFarland's tenure and posted a 44-win season in 2002.
McFarland led Northern Illinois for seven years prior to coming to James Madison, resurrecting a dormant Hukies program. He has an all-time career record of 520-510-3 during his 19-year head coaching career. Known for developing pitchers, McFarland has seen 61 of his pitchers go on to sign professional contracts.
North Carolina Head Coach Mike Fox has guided his alma mater to the most successful period in school history, fi rmly establishing the Tar Heels as one of the nation's preeminent college baseball programs. Capped by three straight trips to the College World Series in the past three years, North Carolina has made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament and posted a 452-190-1 record in Fox's previous 10 seasons in Chapel Hill.
In his 11th season, Fox is one of only six men to play in and then coach his alma mater to the College World Series. He has led the Tar Heels to seven straight 40-win seasons and seven consecutive trips to postseason play for the fi rst time in school history. The Tar Heels' 165 victories are tops in the nation over the last three seasons.
Fox has coached his teams to NCAA tourney play in 23 of his 25 seasons as a head coach, including a combined 11 trips to the NCAA Division I and Division III World Series.

Most Victories by First-Year Coach at Liberty
With 35 wins in 2008, 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 fi rst year, eclipsing the mark of Dave Pastors, the fourth head coach in program history. In 1998, his fi rst season, Pastors led the Flames to a 32-29 record.

Following the Flames
This season, the Flames Sports Network plans to broadcast several Liberty baseball regular season games. Games will air live on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light" and on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com. The schedule of games will be posted on thelightonline.com, when the station announces its broadcast schedule.
In addition, selected games will be video streamed live on the internet via the Big South Edge, available on BigSouthSports.com. The stream can be accessed by a link on LibertyFlames.com or by going directly to BigSouthSports.com.
Live stats are available for each Liberty contest through LibertyFlames.com.

Pitching Probables
Tuesday: Liberty - RHP Joe Steinwedell vs. James Madison - RHP David Edwards
Wednesday: Liberty - TBA vs. North Carolina - RHP Bryant Gaines

The Last Time Out
Liberty won its third-straight contest, 3-2 over Mercer, to capture the 2009 Coca-Cola Classic title Sunday in Mobile, Ala. Outfi elder Jeff Jefferson lined a grounder off the glove of Bears third baseman Jacob Tanis for an infi eld single, scoring second baseman P.J. Jimenez with the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Right-hander Tyler Light pitched his second scoreless frame in the ninth to wrap-up the 3-2 win. In his fi rst appearance of the season, the senior recorded the victory.

All-Time Against James Madison and North Carolina
Tuesday will be the 59th meeting between Liberty and James Madison on the baseball diamond since 1976. Having won the past fi ve meeting between the two teams, the Dukes hold a 36-22 advantage in the series.
Last season, James Madison took all three games between the two squads. Liberty has not won in the series since erasing a fi ve-run Duke advantage with six eighth-inning runs in a 12-11 win, April 11, 2006 at Worthington Stadium. The Flames have not won at Long Field in Harrisonburg, Va., since 9-4 victory on March 29, 2005.
North Carolina and Liberty will meet for 14th time on Wednesday. The Flames have never beaten the Tar Heels, who have a 13-0 edge in the series since 1976. The two have not met since a 10-4 North Carolina victory in Chapel Hill, N.C., on March 12, 2003.

Liberty on the Road
With its Coca-Cola Classic title this past weekend, Liberty opened its 2009 season with a 2-0 road mark and a 1-1 neutral field record. The Flames completed their 2008 road schedule, posting a 15-8 road record and a 9-6 neutral field mark. The Flames' 15 road victories were the most by a Liberty club in program history. Liberty's .652 road winning percentage was its best road mark since
1980, when the Flames went 9-2 on the road for an .818 percentage.

Baseball in the Commonwealth
Thirteen Division I baseball teams call the Commonwealth of Virginia home. This season, the Flames are scheduled to face opponents from the "Old Dominion State" 20 times, starting Tuesday with the first of three games with James Madsion. Liberty posted a 13-13-1 record against in-state opponents in 2008.
The Flames will meet state squads George Mason (two times), James Madison (three times), Longwood (one time), Old Dominion (two times), Radford (three times), VCU (one time), VMI (three times), Virginia (one time), Virginia Tech (two times) and William & Mary (two times) this season.

Flames By the Month
With last weekend's Coca-Cola Classic title, Liberty has started its eight-game February schedule with a 3-1 record. Liberty has traditionally been successful in the month, with an all-time mark of 64-30. Over the past three years, the Flames have played strong in the month of February. Last season, Liberty opened with a 5-0 record in the month, while Liberty started the 2007 campaign by posting a 7-3 mark in February. In 2006, Liberty started its season by recording a 7-2 record in the month.

Liberty Picked Second in Big South Preseason Poll
The Flames were tabbed by the Big South Coaches to finish second in the conference standings this season. Liberty was voted second, behind two-time defending champion Coastal Carolina.
The Flames, who were picked to fi nish atop the conference standings by two coaches, garnered 86 points in the poll, 11 less than Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers received seven fi rst place votes and 97 total points.
After last year's two Big South Championship fi nalists, Winthrop, who garnered the final fi rst-place vote, was tabbed third by the panel, followed by VMI, Radford, High Point and conference newcomer Gardner-Webb. UNC Asheville, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian, another conference newcomer, rounded out the poll.
Presbyterian is eligible for the conference regular-season title, but not the Big South Championship title. The 2009 Big South Championship will be contested May 19-23 at McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C.

Hollinger Named to Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
Liberty senior catcher Errol Hollinger has been named to the preseason 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List. The Wallace Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player, in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame's annual induction festivities.
Hollinger is listed among 204 collegiate players appearing on the preseason Wallace Watch list. It is the second straight year a Flame has appeared on the list. Last season, Garrett Young was named to the award's watch list. This past season, Hollinger fi nished among the Big South leaders in runs scored (6th – 60), hits (7th – 82), RBIs (tied 8th – 47), doubles (tied 5th – 19) and total bases (tied
7th – 127). On the defensive side, he led the conference in runners caught stealing with
26 and fewest passed balls with four.
The senior hit .319 with eight home runs and a .494 slugging percentage in 62 games in 2008. He led the Flames by hitting in 21 straight games, the longest hitting streak by a Liberty player last season. Hollinger also led Liberty in both multiple-hit games (26) and multiple-RBI games. The catcher was selected to the Big South all-conference second team at the end of the season.
In a recent survey of Big South Coaches by CollegeBaseballInsider.com, Hollinger was voted the conference's best catcher. He also received honorable mention consideration on the 2009 Ping! Baseball Preseason team. The senior was also voted team captain by his teammates for the second consecutive year.

Umberger Among Flames' All-Time K Kings
Liberty senior right-hander Dustin Umberger enters 2009, his final season in a Flames uniform, already listed among the program's all-time leaders in strikeouts. The Hummelstown, Pa., native has struck out 189 batters over his fi rst three seasons at Liberty to rank seventh on the school's career strikeout list. Mike Brown, who pitched at Liberty from 1994-97, holds the career strikeout mark with 287.
Voted as one of the three toughest pitchers to face in the conference by Big South head coaches in a recent poll by CollegeInsider.com, Umberger led the league with 88 strikeouts last season and was tied for second with eight wins. The right-hander posted an 8-3 record with one save and a 3.80 ERA over 83 innings in 2008. He walked only 19 batters for a 4.6-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. After starting the year in the bullpen, Umberger made nine starts, pitching two complete games and compiling a 6-1 record.
For the second year in a row, the right-hander was selected to the Big South All-Tournament team. On May 23, Umberger allowed two runs on six hits, striking out 10 in a complete game, 11-2 victory over Radford.

Many New Faces
The Liberty Flames will have 18 new members on their roster in 2009. Fifty percent of Liberty's roster will consist of fi rst-year players. In addition, the Flames starting line-up will feature six new faces. Of the first-year players, six are junior college transfers, 10 are freshmen and two are
sophomores.

A Look Ahead
The Flames return to Lynchburg, Saturday, to open their 2009 home schedule. Jim Toman's squad will host the Manhattan Jaspers in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. The twinbill will begin at noon. The two teams will conclude the three game series the following day with a single game, beginning at 1 p.m.
Next week, Liberty visits VCU, Tuesday. The lone meeting this season between the Rams and Flames will start at 3 p.m. at the Diamond in Richmond, Va. Wednesday, Liberty will host its fi rst midweek game, when the Flames welcome the George Mason Patriots to Lynchburg. First pitch at Worthington Stadium is slated for 3 p.m.