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Flames Face Monarchs, Dukes in Midweek Games

March 30, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Outfielder Jeff Jefferson and the Flames meet Old Dominion and James Madison in midweek games.

Outfielder Jeff Jefferson and the Flames meet Old Dominion and James Madison in midweek games.

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (19-5, 7-1 Big South) will meet two CAA teams in midweek contests. Tuesday, Liberty travels to Norfolk, Va., to square off with the Old Dominion Monarchs (7-15, 2-4 CAA). Game time at Bud Metheny Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Flames return home for their final meeting of the year with the James Madison Dukes (15-12, 3-3 CAA). First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Al Worthington Stadium.

What to Watch
Liberty enters the week, looking to continue its season-high nine-game win streak. The streak is currently the longest in the nation The Flames have hit .379 as team, while the Liberty mound staff has posted a 3.78 ERA over the span.
Right fielder Doug Bream continues to lead the Big South Conference and the Flames at the plate with a .449 average. He also has 26 RBIs. Third baseman Tyler Bream, this week's Big South Player of the Week, has driven in 23 runs in his last 10 games and leads the conference with 36 RBIs on the season. The freshman enters the week with a .379 average.
Old Dominion comes off a 1-2 weekend at Delaware. The Monarchs have lost five of their last eight.
Third baseman Jake McAloose leads Old Dominion in hitting with a .357 average. Outfielder Donnie Corsner paces the Monarchs with 20 RBIs. He enters the week with a .344 average.
James Madison will meet Liberty for the third time this year, Wednesday. The Dukes enter the week hitting .333 as a team. James Madison plays Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
Shortstop David Hrbek leads the Dukes with a .416 batting average and 32 RBIs. Outfielder Matt Townsend is hitting .341, with a team-high 10 home runs. Two-way player Trevor Knight, who is expected to start Wednesday, is hitting .404 and has a 1-1 record with a 4.66 ERA.

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.
    Old Dominion Head Coach Jerry Meyers is in his fifth year with the Monarchs.  Last season, the Monarchs posted a 25-27 mark under Meyers.  In 2007, Old Dominion compiled a 35-24 record and was the top seed in the CAA tournament and co-regular season champions. The Monarch pitching staff topped the CAA with a 3.97 ERA and 471 strikeouts.
    Meyers was awarded the 2006 Collegiate Coach of the Year from the Mid-Atlantic Major League Baseball Scouts Association. Old Dominion enjoyed one of the nation's biggest turnarounds after going 39-17 and finishing second in the CAA. The Monarchs climbed back into the national top 15 for the first time since the mid 1980's.  He also was named the CAA Coach of the Year.
    He spent eight years at South Carolina, working with the team's pitchers, before taking over at Old Dominion.  Meyers served on the same stafff with Liberty's Jim Toman.
    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.

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.
Flames By the Month
The Flames have posted a 16-2 (.889) overall mark and started 7-1 in Big South play during the month of March. This season, Liberty is scheduled to play 21 games during March, including nine scheduled conference games. However, two games were canceled due to inclement weather.
Last season, the Flames posted a 7-12 overall mark and a 1-2 record in conference action during the month. Liberty is 337-267-2 (.558) 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.

The Last Time Out
Liberty hit five home runs, propelling the Flames to a 14-7 victory over Presbyterian, and a sweep of its three-game series with the Blue Hose, Sunday afternoon, at Worthington Stadium. The victory pushed the Flames' win streak to a season-high nine games.
Third baseman Tyler Bream hit his first collegiate grand slam in the third inning, while outfielders Curran Redal and Doug Bream connected for back-to-back home runs in the fifth. Catcher Errol Hollinger and Trey Wimmer also hit four-baggers for the Flames.
Redal's round tripper was his fourth of the season, while Doug Bream's was his fifth of the year. It is the second time this season, the Flames have hit back-to-back home runs in a contest. Hollinger and outfielder Casey Brown hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning of an 11-1 victory over Temple on March 7.
Liberty starter Shawn Teufel improved to 3-1 on the season. The left-hander gave up four runs on seven hits, striking out six in six innings of work.

Bream Named Big South Player of the Week
Liberty freshman third baseman Tyler Bream has been selected as the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Baseball Player of the Week for March 30.
Bream batted .467 (7-15) and drove in 10 runs to help Liberty post a 4-0 mark last week and move atop the Big South standings. He started the week with three hits, three RBIs, two doubles and four runs in the Flames' win at North Carolina State on Tuesday. On Friday against Presbyterian, Bream walked with the bases loaded to force in the winning run, and the next day against the Blue Hose, Bream drove in both Liberty runs in a 2-1 victory. Sunday, the freshman had his second three-hit game of the week and hit his first collegiate grand slam to complete the sweep of Presbyterian. On the week, Bream slugged .800, had a .556 on-base percentage, scored six runs and walked three times. He also has 23 RBIs in his last 10 games.
Bream is the second Flame selected as the Big South Player of the Week this season. Center fielder Curran Redal was named the conference's player of the week for March 16.

Longest Winning Streak in Country
The Flames enter Tuesday's game with the longest winning in the country. Liberty's current nine-game winning streak is one better than Loyola-Marymount, who begins the week with an eight-game streak. The Lions host nationally-ranked UC Irvine, Tuesday.
Two winning streaks have propelled Liberty to a 16-2 March record. The Flames began the month of March with a seven-game winning streak, March 6-13. After the only two setbacks of the month, Liberty opened its current nine-game winning skein, March 18-30.
With a 19-5 overall mark, the Flames currently have a .792 winning percentage, the 11th highest percentage in the country. No. 1 ranked Georgia had the best winning percentage to start the week, with a .880 winning percentage (22-3).

Season-High 23 Hits at N.C. State
The Liberty Flames banged out a season-high 23 hits, leading from start to finish, en route to a 17-5 victory over the N.C. State Wolfpack, last Wednesday at Doak Field.
The Flames collected 23 hits in the contest, the most by Jim Toman's team this season. The hit total eclipses the 18 hits Toman's squad had on three other occasions earlier this year.
Center fielder Curran Redal and first baseman Trey Wimmer paced the Flames at the plate with four hits each. Tyler Bream, Errol Hollinger and Jeff Jefferson added three hits apiece for Liberty. Wimmer had four RBIs in the contest, while Jefferson hit his fourth home run.
Mark Swanson, the second Liberty pitcher in the contest, picked up the win to run his record to 3-0 on the year. The right-hander pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out three.
The contest marked the return of Toman to his alma mater as a head coach. The Liberty skipper was a four-year letterwinner in baseball with the Wolfpack from 1981-84.

Second Best Start in Liberty History
Through the first 24 games of the season, the Flames have recorded a 19-5 overall mark to post the second-best start to a season in the 36-year history of Liberty baseball.
Jim Toman's team's record ties them with the 1985 and 1980 squads, which began their seasons with 19-5 ledgers.
The 1979 Liberty squad posted the best start by a Flames team, opening its season with a 20-4 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.

Mashing in March
    After going 3-3 to begin the season, the Flames have gone 16-2 in the month of March, keyed by their hitting.
    Over its last 18 games, Liberty has hit .364 as a team, and scored 10.7 runs per game.  This month's hitting outburst has raised the Flames' batting average for the season 96 points, to .334. 
    During the stretch, Liberty has enjoyed a power burst too.  The Flames have hit 31 home runs and boast a .581 slugging percentage over the month's 18 games. 

A Look Ahead
Liberty will travel across the Blue Ridge Mountains for a three-game Big South Conference series in Lexington, Va., with the VMI Keydets, April 3-5. The series gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. at Gray-Minor Stadium, followed by a 4 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. The series will conclue Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday, the Flames remain on the road. Tuesday, Liberty will face the Tribe of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Game time at Plumeri Park is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Wednesday, the Flames will meet the George Mason Patriots at Spuhler Field in Fairfax, Va. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.