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Flames and Cavaliers Square off on Diamond

April 28, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Outfielder Tim Rotola

Outfielder Tim Rotola

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Game
The Liberty Flames (29-13, 16-4 Big South) travel up Route 29, to square off with the No. 11 Virginia Cavaliers (34-9-1,13-8-1 ACC), Tuesday night at Davenport Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

What to Watch
The Liberty Flames enter the contest one win shy of 30. One more victory extends the Flames' streak of 30 or more wins in a season to five consecutive years.
Liberty for the second consecutive week received votes in several national polls. This past weekend, the Big South-leading Flames took two-out-of-three games from the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs.
As a team, Liberty is hitting .321, the highest average by a Flames' team since 2002.
Outfielder Tim Rotola has hit a team-leading .579 since his insertion in the Liberty line-up five games ago. Meanwhile, center fielder Curran Redal continues to be among the Big South leaders in batting average with a team-leading .400 average.
Third baseman Tyler Bream added 10 RBIs last week to raise his RBI total to a conference-leading 56. The freshman hit a walk-off three-run home run to defeat Virginia Tech last Wednesday, 4-3, and Saturday, drove in six runs in Liberty's win at Gardner-Webb. He is tied with catcher Errol Hollinger for the team-lead in home runs with eight. Hollinger hit a game-tying grand slam, Sunday, in the Flames' 10-9, 11-inning win at Gardner-Webb.
The Virginia Cavaliers enter the week ranked as high as No. 11 in national polls. The Cavaliers won two-of-three games from N.C. State over the weekend, and begin the week hitting .342 as a team.
Right-fielder Dan Grovatt leads Virginia at the plate with a .394 batting average. He is one of eight Cavaliers with a better than .300 average. Leadoff hitter, center fielder Jarrett Parker, is second on the team with a .384 average and has scored 61 times. Parker has also hit 12 home runs this season.
Second baseman Phil Gosselin, who is hitting .345, has a team-leading 53 RBIs.

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. This season, his Flames have posted the most victories by a Liberty team in conference play.
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.
Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Cavaliers, Brian O'Connor has built the Virginia program into one of the nation's elite. O'Connor entered 2009 with an overall record of 216-89 and a 87-53 record in ACC play, while leading Virginia to five-consecutive NCAA Regional appearances – a first in program history. UVa's 216 wins are the program's most ever in a five-year span, leading to record crowds which have flocked to Davenport Field each season.
O'Connor is the fastest coach in school history to reach 100 and 200 career wins. His UVa teams have earned four 40-win seasons while reaching the NCAA tournament five times, including playing host to NCAA regionals three times. The Cavaliers are one of just 17 programs in the nation to advance to the NCAA tournament in each of the last five seasons.

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.
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 Post Most Victories in Big South Play
With their 10-9, 11-inning win at Gardner-Webb, Sunday, the 2009 Liberty Flames have recorded 16 Big South victories, the most ever by a Liberty baseball team since joining the conference in 1992. The victory total surpasses the 15 Big South wins by the 1995 Flames.

The Last Time Out
Liberty catcher Errol Hollinger hit a game-tying grand slam and first baseman Trey Wimmer blasted the game-winning home run, as the Flames rallied from a 9-3 deficit for a 10-9, 11-inning win over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs in Big South Conference baseball action, Sunday at Masters Field.
After Liberty erased a 9-3 Gardner-Webb lead to knot the contest at 9-9, Wimmer led off the 11th inning by blasting the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall. The home run, the first baseman's sixth of the season, gave Liberty a 10-9 advantage. Reliever Andrew Wilson then closed out the Bulldogs in bottom of the inning, stranding the tying run on second base to run his record to 5-2. The right-hander threw four innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits, while striking out five and walking one.
The Flames knotted the contest in the eighth inning. The first three hitters in the inning, second baseman P.J. Jimenez, shortstop Matt Williams and center fielder Curran Redal, each singled to begin the frame, loading the bases with no one out. Two batters later, Hollinger drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall, tying the contest at 9-9. The grand slam was the catcher's eighth round tripper of the year.
The Flames' Redal had four hits to lead all players in the contest. Doug Bream added three hits. Hollinger had five RBIs for Liberty.

Taking One for the Team
Entering play this week, Liberty batters have been hit by a pitch 81 times this season, one shy of the school record the Flames set last season. Flame batters have been plunked by an opposition almost an average of two times per game. Liberty ranked fourth in the nation in the category in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, through games of April 19, with 76.
This year, Flames batters have been hit by a pitch seven times in a game twice to set a new school standard. Temple pitchers hit seven Liberty hitters on March 7 and High Point hurlers plunked seven Flames on March 22.
Last season, the Flames set a new school record by being hit by a pitch 82 times. The mark eclipsed the previous standard of 75 in the 2001 season.

Fine Fielding
Jim Toman's squad ranked No. 11 in the nation in fielding percentage with a .977 percentage in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, for games through April 19. In addition, the percentage tops the Big South Conference. Liberty has committed 36 errors in 1605 chances this season.
The Flames fielding percentage is 16 points higher than at the same juncture of the year, last season. Through 42 games, Liberty had made 66 errors, 30 more than this year, in 1679 chances for a .961 fielding percentage in 2008. The Flames ended the year with a .963 percentage.
The best team fielding percentage over a season in school history was set by the 2005 Flames. That season, Liberty posted a .971 fielding percentage and also committed the fewest errors in school history with 62.

A Look Ahead
This weekend, the Flames will travel to Conway, S.C., for a three-game Big South Conference series with the No. 22 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The series opener gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. at Charles Watson Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU. The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 6 p.m., followed by the final game of the series, Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Flames will continue on the road on May 5, by making their annual visit to Blacksburg, Va., for a night contest with the Virginia Tech Hokies. Game time at English Field is scheduled for 7 p.m.