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Flames Open Conference Play at Asheville

March 25, 2010  Asheville, N.C.  RSS
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Liberty pitcher Keegan Linza

Liberty pitcher Keegan Linza

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (13-6, 0-0 Big South) travel to Asheville, N.C., for their first Big South series of the season, Friday-Sunday, against the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (5-12, 0-3 Big South) at Greenwood Field. First pitch in the series opener is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday's contest is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. The series finale gets underway Sunday at 1 p.m.

Last Time Out
The host Virginia Tech Hokies used a five-run third inning to down the Flames, 10-0, Wednesday at English Field.
In the only meeting between the two teams this season, Liberty was held to four hits by Hokie pitching. Catcher Nathan Thompson had two hits for the Flames.

On Deck
Liberty will host George Mason, Tuesday in a midweek contest. Game time at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Flames will travel to Richmond, Va., to play the VCU Rams at the Diamond. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Flames in Big South Openers
For the 14th time during Liberty's 18 years in the Big South, the Flames will start conference play with a road series. Liberty is 24-26 in their Big South opening series of the season.
Of the 50 games, Liberty has opened conference play on the road 13 times, posting a 15-21 record. The Flames have opened at home five times, going 9-5.
Last season, Liberty opened the Big South portion of its schedule at Worthington Stadium, splitting a pair of games with the Charleston Southern Bucanneers during a rain-fill weekend. The Flames won the opening contest, 5-4, and dropped the other contest 7-4.
In 2008, Liberty opened conference play with the first night game in stadium history, a 5-3, 11 inning setback to Coastal Carolina on March 28. The Flames bounced back the following afternoon for a 9-6 win, before dropping the finale game of the set on March 30, 2-1.

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.
UNC Asheville Head Coach Tom Smith is in his first season heading up the Bulldog program. This past June, he became the the eighth head coach in the history of the UNC Asheville baseball program. He had served on the UNC Asheville coaching staff for two years, serving as a volunteer assistant in 2008 and as an assistant in 2009.
Before coming to UNC Asheville, Smith was considered one of the top high school coaches in the nation at T.C. Roberson HS in Asheville. He coached the Rams program for 28 years and led the school to three 3-A state titles in 1983, 2000 and 2002. The Rams won 14 conference titles during his tenure.
Smith had 20 players drafted by major league teams during his time at Roberson. The list includes pitcher Darren Holmes who went to pitch 17 years in the major leagues, current left-hander pitcher Chris Narveson of the Milwaukee Brewers and outfielder Cameron Maybin of the Florida Marlins, who was drafted in the first round in 2005.

Scouting the Bulldogs
After being swept last weekend at Radford in its first Big South series of the year, UNC Asheville will be hosting its first conference series this weekend looking for its first Big South win of the year.The Bulldogs enter their set with the Flames at 5-12 overall.
As a team, UNC Asheville is hitting .282 on the year, and averages 6.1 runs per game.Catcher Ian Graham is Asheville's leading hitter, having posted a .377 average.
Second baseman Robert McInthosh, who has also made three pitching appearances for the Bulldogs, follows Graham with a .339 average.
The UNC Asheville pitching staff is lead by Taylor Wohlwend, who will face the Flames Friday. Wohlwend is a 1-3 so far this season with a save and a 5.32 ERA. He leads the Bulldog staff with 23 2/3 innings pitched and 28 strike outs. Ryan Dull, Saturday's starter, is 2-0. He has posted a 5.73 ERA in 22 innings.
Tyler Coyle and Dan Weller have been the most relied upon hurlers out of the Bulldog bullpen this season. Coyle has made nine appearances and is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. Weller has a team-best 2.45 ERA in eight appearances.

March Mayhem
Liberty has posted a 7-6 record during the month of March this season. The Flames are 344-273-2 (.557) all-time in program history during the month.
Last season, Liberty posted a 16-3 (.842) overall mark and started 7-1 in Big South play during the month.
Liberty is scheduled to play 18 games during March. Three of those games will begin Big South Conference play. The Flames will travel to UNC Asheville for a conference series, this weekend at Greenwood Field.

Closing in on Milestone 1,000
With 993 victories in program history, the Flames enter the week seven games shy of the program's milestone 1,000th win. Liberty posted a 11-14 record in its ingural season under Al Worthington in 1974.

Other notable Liberty wins:
• 100th win - Liberty 9 Hampton-Sydney 2, April 17, 1979
• 200th win - Liberty 5, Azusa Pacific 4, NAIA National Tournament, June 4, 1981
• 300th win - Liberty 21, Radford, 0, March 19
• 500th win - Liberty 9, Campbell 4, April 23, 1994
• 750th win - Liberty 8, Kutztown 4, March 7, 2003
• 900th win - Liberty 13, Radford, 1, April 21, 2007

Other things to note:
• The Flames have recorded one 40-win season (1983).
• The Flames have won 30 or more games in a season on 14 occasions. In addition,
Liberty has posted 30 or more victories in a season each of the last five seasons.
• The Flames have had six head coaches during their 37 years - Al Worthington, Bobby Richardson, Johnny Hunton, Dave Pastors, Matt Royer and Jim Toman.
Worthington, the program's first coach is also its winningest and longest tenured, recording 343 victories over 13 seasons.

Teufel Named to Watch List
Liberty senior Shawn Teufel has been listed on the 2010 National Pitcher of the Year Watch List. The Flames left-hander is one of 49 pitchers on the initial list released by the College Baseball Foundation, Tuesday.
Teufel has opened the 2010 season with a 4-0 record and a 0.62 ERA in five starts. The left-hander leads the Big South Conference in both wins and ERA. He is also among the national leaders, ranking fourth in ERA.
Teufel has allowed only two runs over 29 innings this season, striking out 28 batters and walking 18. He is also holding opponents to a .170 batting average, which ranks second among Big South pitchers.
After yielding one run in the opening inning of Liberty season opener at Kennesaw State, Teufel ran off a string of 24 scoreless innings, before giving up a run during the Flames' 8-4 win over Manhattan, Friday.

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 an 11-0 record during their weekend starts, with a 1.96 ERA. With wins this past weekend, Teufel and Linza moved to 4-0 to lead the Big South Conference in wins, while Evans has posted a 3-0 record. During their weekend starts, teams have hit .183 against the trio and struck out 80 times.

Redal At It Again
Liberty outfielder Curran Redal completed the 2009 season as one of the toughest hitters in the nation to strike out. The junior finished the year, striking out once every 21.3 at bats, ranking him ninth among NCAA Division I batters in the country. Redal struck out only 10 times in 213 at bats over 54 games last season.
This year, the senior is back among the nation's toughest hitters to strikeout, ranking second in the country by striking out just once in 69 at bats.