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Liberty Faces N.C. State

March 25, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Shortstop Matt Williams and the Flames square off with N.C. State, Wednesday.

Shortstop Matt Williams and the Flames square off with N.C. State, Wednesday.

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Game

The Liberty Flames (15-5, 4-1 Big South) travel to Raleigh, N.C., for a midweek contest against the N.C. State Wolfpack (12-10, 3-6 ACC), Wednesday. First pitch at Doak Field is set for 3 p.m.

What to Watch
Liberty enters the week on a five-game winning streak and winners of 12 out of its last 14 games. Flames Head Coach Jim Toman returns to his alma mater, with his Liberty team hitting .330 and averaging nine runs per game.
Over the past six games, catcher Errol Hollinger's bat has heated up, as the senior improved his batting average by 120 points to .370, by hitting .667 last week. The Johnny Bench and Brooks Wallace Watch list member also has connected for a team-leading six home runs, tying him for second in the Big South in the category.
In addition, right fielder Doug Bream has continued to pace the Big South Conference with a .426 batting average. He is second in the conference with a .770 slugging percentage. Third baseman Tyler Bream enters the week with 26 RBIs, after tying the school record with nine RBIs in a game, Sunday. The freshman leads the conference in both RBIs and doubles with 11.
The Liberty mound staff has recorded a 5.44 ERA through the first 20 games. Left-hander Steven Evans (3-0) and right-hander Andrew Wilson (3-1) pace the Flames staff with three victories each.
N.C. State begins the week, looking to build upon a mini two-game winning streak. The Wolfpack took the last two games with their ACC series with Wake Forest this past weekend to begin the streak. N.C. State will host UNC Greensboro, Tuesday, before hosting the Flames, Wednesday.
The Wolfpack have hit .265 as a team in 22 games, so far this season. Leading N.C. State at the plate is shorstop Dallas Polk with a .287 average. Catcher Chris Schaeffer and outfielder Devon Cartwright are tied for the team lead with 15 RBIs each. Schaeffer has amassed his total in 13 games, while Cartwright has collected his total in 18 games.

A Look At:

N.C. State
Roster
Schedule/Results
Statistics
Web Site


The Coaches
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his second year at the helm of the Flames. In this first season at Liberty, he guided the Flames to a 35-26-1 mark, the best record by a Liberty team under a first-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.
North Carolina State Head Coach Elliot Avent is in his 13th year as the leader of the Wolfpack and 21st year overall. Avent has taken N.C. State to nine NCAA?regionals and two NCAA?Super Regionals, and has averaged more than 38 wins per season during 12 years in Raleigh. Last season, his Wolfpack posted a 42-22 record and advanced to a Super Regional.
In the last six years, Avent has guided to N.C. State to a school record six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. During the span, the Wolfpack won 242 games with a .652 won-lost percentage, an average of more than 40 wins per season The Wolfpack Avent was named ACC?and National Coach of the Year in 2003, and was selected for the USA?Baseball coaching staff in 2004.

Returning to his Alma Mater
Wednesday afternoon will be the first time that Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman has returned to his alma mater since taking over the Flames program two years ago.
Toman earned four letters at N.C. State, as a catcher, from 1981-84. He was captain of the Wolfpack during his junior and senior seasons. In 1984, he set ACC Tournament records for home runs (4), doubles (4) and total bases (25), while being named to the all-tournament team.
After graduating from N.C. State in 1985, he returned to his alma mater in 1990 under head coach Ray Tanner. Toman was a member of the Wolfpack staff for seven years. He served as an assistant coach with the Wolfpack for four years, before becoming an associate coach in 1994. N.C. State participated in a NCAA Regional six times during his time on the Wolfpack staff.

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 radio 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 for a nominal fee through a link on LibertyFlames.com or by going directly to BigSouthSports.com. 
    Live stats are available for each Liberty contest by clicking on the various Live Stats links at LibertyFlames.com.

The Last Time Out
    Third baseman Tyler Bream tied the Liberty record for RBIs in a game with nine, as the Flames defeated the High Point Panthers, 19-5, Sunday afternoon, at Coy Willard Stadium to complete a sweep of its three-game Big South series.
    With a run-scoring single in the seventh inning, Bream tied the Liberty record for RBIs in a game with nine. The freshman third baseman's nine RBIs tied the school mark set by former Flame standout Pat Sipe, who recorded nine RBIs in a 13-2 win over Richmond on April 19, 1986, at Worthington Stadium.
    Liberty left-hander Shawn Teufel was the beneficiary of the Flames' scoring spree, running his season record to 2-1 on the year. The junior allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings of work.
    Bream went 3-for-4 with four runs scored to go along with his nine RBIs for the Flames. Teammate Errol Hollinger went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored.

Flames By the Month
    The Flames have posted a 12-2 mark in March and started 4-1 in the Big South .  This season, Liberty is scheduled to play 21 games during March, including nine scheduled conference games.
     Last season, the Flames posted a 7-12 overall mark and a 1-2 record in conference action during the month. Liberty is 330-267-2 (.553) all-time in program history during  March.
    Liberty finished its February schedule with a 3-3 mark. The Flames were scheduled to play nine games in the month, but had three canceled due to inclement weather. Liberty has an all-time mark of 64-32 in February.

Hollinger On Johnny Bench Watch List
    Liberty senior catcher Errol Hollinger has been listed on the 2009 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Watch List. The list was released earlier this week by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
    The Johnny Bench Award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. The initial list includes 44 catchers nominated for the award by their coaches.
    Hollinger, a native of Upland, Calif., is a four-year starter at the position for the Flames. He entered the season named on the 2009 Brooks Wallace Watch list. The award is given to the top collegiate player each season.
    He enters tonight's contest tied for the Big South lead in home runs with five. So far on the year, Hollinger is hitting .311 with 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored over 17 games. He has also added three doubles.
    Last season, the Liberty catcher finished 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 (15). The catcher was selected to the Big South all-conference second team at the end of the season.

March Win Streaks Key Strong Start to Season
    Two winning streaks have propelled Liberty to a 12-2 March record. With the mark, the Flames have posted a 15-5 start to the year, the fifth-best start in the 36-year history of Liberty baseball.
    The Flames began the month of March with a seven-game winning streak, March 6-13.   After two setbacks, Liberty began its current five-game winning skein, March 18-22. 
    Jim Toman's team's record ties them with the 1985 and 1976 squads, which began their seasons with 15-5 ledgers.  Three Liberty teams have posted 16-4 records through their first 20 contests of the year.  The 2006, 1995 and 1980 Flames started their seasons with the mark
    The 1979 Liberty squad posted the best start by a Flames team, opening their season with a 17-3 record.  Under the direction of program founder, Al Worthington, Liberty finished the season with a 22-11-1 mark.  The team featured future major leaguers Sid Bream and Lee Guetterman.

Many New Faces
    The Liberty Flames have 18 new members on their roster in 2009.  Over fifty percent of Liberty's roster consists of first-year players. Of the first-year players, six are transfers, 10 are freshmen and two are sophomores.
    Junior outfielder Curran Redal, freshman shortstop Matt Williams and freshman third baseman Tyler Bream are all first-year players who have started all 20 games this season for Liberty. 
    This past weekend, the Flames started four freshman on the infield during each game of their three-game sweep of High Point. Trey Wimmer  manned first base, Kizuku Scott started at second base, Bream played third base and Williams started at shortstop in every game of the series.

A Look Ahead
    This upcoming weekend, the Flames return home for a three-game series against Big South newcomer Presbyterian, Friday-Sunday.  The series opener at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m., followed by the middle game of the conference series at 4 p.m.  The series will conclude on Sunday.  First pitch for the finale of the three-game set is scheduled for 1 p.m.