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Liberty Hosts Radford in Three-Game Series

May 13, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Senior catcher Errol Hollinger will be one of five seniors playing in their last games at Worthington Stadium, Thursday-Saturday

Senior catcher Errol Hollinger will be one of five seniors playing in their last games at Worthington Stadium, Thursday-Saturday

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (30-17, 16-7 Big South) complete their 2009 regular season this weekend by hosting the Radford Highlanders (23-21, 14-8 Big South) in a key Big South Conference series. The series will help decide seeding for the upcoming conference championship next week. The series opens Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. first pitch on Friday. The final contest of the three-game set is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

What to Watch
The Liberty Flames enter the final weekend, have clinched one of the top three seeds for the Big South Baseball Championship.
Liberty begins the weekend with a .314 team batting average. The Flames' mound staff has posted a 5.13 ERA so far this season.
Curran Redal continues to pace Liberty at the plate with a .397 batting average. The center fielder ranks fifth in the Big South in the category. His 71 hits tie him for the fifth spot in the conference. Redal is tied with outfielder Doug Bream for the Flames' lead in multi-hit contest with 21 multi-hit contests. Bream enters the weekend, second on the team with a .361 batting average.
Flames pitchers also find themselves among the Big South leaders. Andrew Wilson, Steven Evans and Shawn Teufel are all among the conference's ERA leaders. Wilson is fourth in the Big South with a 3.19 ERA, followed by Evans, who is tied for sixth, with a 3.75 ERA. Teufel is 10th with a 4.35 ERA. Teufel is also tied for second in the conference in wins, with a 7-2 record.
The Radford Highlanders begin the weekend, trying to hold off the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs for the No. 4 seed in the upcoming conference championship.
The Highlanders are hitting .318 as team this season, while their pitching staff sports a 5.98 ERA through 44 games.
First baseman Alex Gregory enters the weekend third in the conference with a .406 batting average. He also paces the Radford with 37 RBIs.
Right-hander Aerik Taylor enters his start on Thursday with a 5-3 mark with team-leading 4.06 ERA in 12 starts. Reliever Josh Patten is second in the Big South with eight saves.

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, eclipsing the previous mark of 15.
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.
Highlanders' Head Coach Raccuia, a 1995 Radford graduate, returned to his roots in July of 2007, when he was named the fifth head coach in Radford baseball history. His path home has been a busy one, ranging from the head coaching job at Marist to an assistant's position at Alabama. In each case, he's had a successful run, setting the stage for his return to his alma mater.
In Raccuia's first season with the Highlanders in 2008, the team produced 24 wins, the most since Radford won 28 in 2000. The final total was a 14-game turnaround from the 2007 season.

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. Thursday's game will be broadcast from Worthington Field, starting at 7 p.m.
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.
This weekend, Friday's and Saturday's games are scheduled for streaming on the Edge.
Live stats are available for each Liberty contest by clicking on the various Live Stats links at LibertyFlames.com.

Flames at Worthington Stadium
For the past 31 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. Liberty has compiled an impressive 504-227-5 record at the facility for a winning percentage of .688 since the stadium's inception in 1979.
The Flames have posted an 18-3 record at the facility this season, already eclipsing last season's home win total of 11. Liberty is scheduled to play 24 games at home this season.

30 Wins - Five Consecutive Years
With its 4-1 win over Duke, Tuesday, Liberty has reached 30 wins for the fifth consecutive season, and the first two years under head coach Jim Toman. It is the first time in the 36-year history of the program, the Flames have won 30 or more games five-straight years.
Last season, the Flames posted a 35-26-1 mark to record four-straight seasons of 30 wins or more. It was the first time, Liberty has accomplished the four-year feat.
Before last season, the Liberty baseball program had won 30 or more games in season, three consecutive years. The Flames won 30 or more contests three consecutive seasons from 2000-03.

Flames Post Most Victories in Big South Play
With their 10-9, 11-inning win at Gardner-Webb, April 26, 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, who finished their conference season at 15-9. Jim Toman's squad still has six Big South Conference games remaining.

The Last Time Out
The Liberty Flames scored three times in the ninth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie, en route to their 30th victory of the season, a 4-1 win, over the Duke Blue Devils, Tuesday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
With the bases loaded and one out, right fielder Casey Brown delivered the go-ahead run with a single to right field. Catcher Errol Hollinger made it, 3-1, scoring on a wild pitch with pinch hitter Justin Richardson at the plate. Richardson followed with a single up the middle, scoring Casey Brown to give the Flames a 4-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Flames' reliever Andrew Wilson retired the host Blue Devils in order, sealing Liberty's 30th win of the season, earning his fifth save of the year.
Center fielder Curran Redal and designated hitter Cody Brown each had two of the Flames' eight hits in the contest.
Liberty starter Tyler Light pitched seven strong innings, allowing an unearned run on six hits. The senior right-hander struck out a season-high eight Blue Devil batters, while walking one. Carter Browning pitched a scoreless eighth inning to run his record to 2-1 on the year.

Taking One for the Team
Liberty batters have been hit by a pitch 87 times, setting a new school record. The mark eclipses the record of 82, the Flames set last season. Liberty batters have been plunked by the opposition an average of 1.85 times per game. The Flames ranked 10th in the nation in the category in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, through games of May 10.
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 24th in the nation in fielding percentage with a .973 percentage in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, for games through May 10. In addition, the Flames' percentage .973 tops the Big South Conference. Liberty has committed 48 errors in 1791 chances this season.
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.

Two Flames Tough to K
Entering the week, Liberty outfielders Curran Redal and Doug Bream have shown themselves to be two of the toughest hitters in the nation to strike out.
Through games played on May 10, Redal had struck out once every 20 at bats, ranking him ninth among NCAA Division I batters in the country. Meanwhile, fellow Flame Doug Bream ranked 30th on the same list, striking out once every 15.5 at bats.

A Look Ahead
Liberty, which has already clinched one of the top three seeds, will open the 2009 Royal Purple Big South Championship, Wednesday at McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C. An opponent and game time has yet to be determined. The double elimination tournament continues Thursday and finishes Saturday with the championship game. The conference champion earns the Big South's automatic bid to a NCAA Regional.