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Liberty Faces Road Tests at JMU, Duke

March 15, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Senior second baseman P.J. Jimenez and the Flames face James Madison and Duke on the road this week.

Senior second baseman P.J. Jimenez and the Flames face James Madison and Duke on the road this week.

Complete Baseball Game Notes (PDF)

The Games
After completing a seven-game homestand on Sunday, the Liberty Flames (11-2, 0-0 Big South) return to the road for two midweek contests, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Flames will visit Harrisonburg, Va., Tuesday, to face the James Madison Dukes (4-8, 0-0 CAA). Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Wednesday, Liberty will travel to Cary, N.C., to square off with the Duke Blue Devils (11-4, 2-1 ACC). The game will be played at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Last Time Out
The visiting St. John's Red Storm salvaged the final game of a three-game series with the Flames, defeating Liberty, 7-6 in 11 innings.
Center fielder Curran Redal and third baseman Tyler Bream had three hits each for the Flames, who had opened the series with wins on Friday and Saturday.
After the Red Storm took the lead in the eighth, Liberty rallied to knot the score in the bottom of the frame on a two-out double by second baseman P.J. Jimenez, and send the game to extra innings.

On Deck
Liberty returns home for a weekend series with the Manhattan Jaspers at Worthington Stadium. Game time for the series operner, Friday, is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Flames on the Air
Tuesday's Liberty - James Madison baseball game may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary. The broadcast will also be available on the World Wide web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com.

The Coaches
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his third year at the helm of the Flames. In his first two seasons, he guided the Flames to 68 wins, the most during the first two years under any head coach in program history, and best winning percentage (.591) over the same span.
Last season, Liberty posted the most victories in Big South Conference play with a 17-9 mark, since joining the conference in 1992. The Flames recorded an overall record of 33-21 in Toman's second year.
A 21-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.
Head Coach Joe "Spanky" McFarland is in his 13th season as the skipper of the James Madison Dukes. In 12 seasons, he has guided the Dukes to seven NCAA Regional appearances.
Last season, James Madison posted a 30-24 mark. The Dukes had four players from that team named to the All-CAA first team.
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 553-541-3 during his 20-year head coaching career. Known for developing pitchers, McFarland has seen over 60 hurlers under his guidance sign contracts to play professionally.
Duke Head Coach Sean McNally is in his fifth season guiding his alma mater. With a 116-107-1 record in his first four years, McNally is off to the best start by any coach in Duke history.
In 2009, McNally became the first Blue Devils coach to reach 100 wins by his fourth year and the first to compile two 30-win seasons during that span. He has also led Duke to more ACC wins in each of his first four seasons, capped by a 15-15 ACC record in 2009.
Last season, the Blue Devils went 35-24, while racking up the second most ACC victories in school history.
Duke's 2008 season also showed the progress of the program under McNally, as the Blue Devils posted a 37-18-1 record. The mark enabled McNally to become the first coach in Duke baseball history to reach the 30-win season plateau in just his third year of coaching.

Scouting the Dukes
Picked by the CAA Coaches to win its conference in the league's preseason poll, James Madison has had a rough time of it in the early going, posting a 4-8 record. The Dukes enter Tuesday's game having lost five out of their last six contests.
Scoring has not been a problem for James Madison, so far this season. The Dukes enter Tuesday's game with a .300 batting average and a 8.08 runs per game average.
Third baseman Matt Browning leads James Madison with a .413 batting average and 19 hits. Preseason All-American, outfielder Matt Townsend, has hit .356 in the early going, with a team-leading 14 RBIs and four home runs.
While the bats have been somewhat successful, the pitching staff has fallen on hard times early. Through 12 games, the Dukes have recorded a 9.74 ERA and have allowed 11.2 runs per contest.
Junior closer Kevin Munson has opened the year in strong fashion. The 2010 NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch list member has posted a 1-0 mark, with three saves and a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances. In 11 innings of work, the right-hander has struck out 17 batters.
Tuesday's starter Jason Kuhn has made four appearances with one start. The left-hander has a 0-1 record with a 13.50 ERA over 4 2/3 innings of work.

Scouting the Blue Devils
Duke enters Wednesday's game after taking two-out-of-three games from No. 11 North Carolina in the start of ACC play this past weekend. The Blue Devils are out to an 11-4 start this season, having posted a 10-1 record at home.
Duke has hit .303 through its first 15 games of the season. Left fielder Mike Carroll leads the Blue Devils with a .361 batting average in 11 starts. Leadoff hitter Jake Lemmerman will enter Wednesday's contest with a .328 average and a team-high 19 hits. The shortstop also leads Duke with three home runs. Center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms has scored 18 runs and knocked in 17, both team-highs.
The Blue Devils' pitching staff has posted a 4.26 ERA this season and has held opponents to a .280 batting average.
Chase Bebout will be making his second start of the year on Wednesday. In two appearances, the freshman is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA over seven innings. He has struck out seven batters and walked two.
Duke has gotten solid preformances from its bullpen. Ben Grisz, Christopher Manno and Marcus Stroman have all come on to earn saves this season.
Manno has not allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings in four relief appearances. The senior left-hander has picked up two saves and struck out 11.
Grisz leads the Blue Devils in appearances with seven, all in relief. In 15 2/3 innings, the right-hander has recorded a 1-1 record with a save and a 1.17 ERA.
Stroman completes the trio, he has a 2-0 record and two saves in 11 innings. He has struck out 15 during his four appearances.

Flames on the Road
The Flames have started the year 4-0 in road games. Liberty has won five consecutive road games, dating back to last season, for the third longest such streak in the country. Only Texas and Mercer have a longer road win streak with seven.
Liberty is also 2-0 in contests on neutral fields. Liberty finished 2009 with a 11-13 final road ledger. The Flames also compiled a 3-3 record on neutral fields.

Scoring Margin
Liberty enters Tuesday, listed eighth in the country in scoring margin. The Flames are outscoring their opponents by an average of 6.1 runs per game. Unbeaten Arizona State leads the nation with a 7.4 average.
Liberty has outscored its opponents,120-41, on the year. The Flames are averaging 9.2 runs per game, while holding their opponenets to 3.2 runs per game. In seven of their 12 contests, the Flames have scored 10 or more runs in a game.

Better Get There Early
Liberty has scored one run or more in the first inning of nine games this season. In each of those contests, the Flames have gone on to win.

Scoring First
The Flames have gotten on the scoreboard first in 12 of its 13 contests this season. Liberty is 11-1, when scoring first.
This past Sunday, St. John's became the first Flames' opponent to plate runs first in a game this season. The Red Storm went on to edge Liberty, 7-6 in 11 innings.

Roundtripers = Wins
In 26 out of Liberty's 33 victories last season, the Flames hit at least one home run in the contest. Liberty had a record of 26-6 when hitting at least one roundtripper in a game.
Jim Toman's squad belted 60 home runs last season, 14 more than in 2007. Liberty's 60 home runs were the most by the Flames since 2002, when Liberty hit 86.
The Flames have started this season out in similiar fashion, hitting at least one home run in nine of their 10 wins in 2010. Liberty has hit a total of 15 home runs in 2010, with catcher Nathan Thompson leading the team with four.

Starting Sensations
One of the keys to the Flames' early season success has been the performance of their three weekend starters, Shawn Teufel, Keegan Linza and Steven Evans.
The trio has combined to post a 9-0 record, with a 1.14 ERA. All three hurlers have each recorded 3-0 marks this season. In addition, 61% of Liberty's innings pitched (71 of 117) have been by the three hurlers.

Teufel's Scoreless Streak
Senior left-hander Shawn Teufel has not given up a run over his last 21 innings of work. Teufel gave up one run in the first inning of his season-opening start at Kennesaw State on Feb. 19 and has not allow one since.The streak tops a previous career-high of 10 scoreless innings by the pitcher last season from April 4-18.
The scoreless span has left the left-hander eight innings shy of the school record of 29, set by Tim Harrell in 2000.