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Flames Look to Continue Winning Ways on Road

April 26, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Second baseman P.J. Jimenez awaits a pitch during an at bat earlier this season. The Flames face Elon Tuesday.

Second baseman P.J. Jimenez awaits a pitch during an at bat earlier this season. The Flames face Elon Tuesday.

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Game
The Liberty Flames (29-11, 12-3 Big South) will visit the Elon Phoenix (26-16, 12-9 SoCon) for the first time since April 6, 2003, Tuesday evening. Liberty will be looking to extend its nine-game road winning streak. First pitch at Latham Field is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Last Time Out
The Flames scored seven runs in the 10th inning and catcher Nathan Thompson drove in seven runs, propelling Liberty to a 16-9 win over the Presbyterian Blue Hose to complete a sweep of the three-game Big South series, Sunday.
Thompson had four hits, including a three-run home run and a bases-clearing double for the Flames. P.J. Jimenez, Tyler Bream and Michael Robertson had three hits apiece in the contest for Liberty.
Cameron Giannini came in during the ninth with the winning on run on third and one out and was able to induce an inning-ending double play to move the game to extra frames. He pitched a scoreless 10th inning to run his record to 3-2. Flames starter Steven Evans struck out a career-high 11 in the contest.

On Deck
The Flames return home to Worthington Stadium for a three-game Big South Conference series with the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, Friday-Sunday at Worthington Stadium. Friday night's series-opening game will be Jeff Taylor Scholarship Night, remembering former Liberty professor Jeff Taylor. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Flames on the Air
Tuesday night's contest from Elon, N.C., between the Flames and Phoenix maybe 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.
It will also be available via links on the World Wide web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com

The Coaches
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman has the Flames out to their best record during his three year tenure and is just three wins from career win 100. During 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.
Elon Head Coach Mike Kennedy is in his 14th season. The winningest coach in school history, Kennedy has led the Phoenix to 11 campaigns of 30 or more victories.
In addition, after winning 41 last season, Kennedy's Elon teams have won 40 or more games in three of the last four seasons. His 2006 squad set a new school record with 45 victories, while the 2008 team fell just one win shy of that mark and captured the program's first NCAA Division I league tournament title.
Last year, Elon won its third Southern Conference regular-season title in four years and earned a No. 2 seed in the Atlanta Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Kennedy's squad finished the SoCon season with a 22-3 record and went 41-18 overall. The team also collected the program's first top-25 finish at the Division I level, ranking 24th in the final Baseball America poll and 27th in the last National Collegiate Baseball Writers Asscociation top-30 poll. Kennedy was chosen as the league's coach of the year for the third time in his career.
Prior to the start of the 2009 season, Kennedy was selected to serve as the pitching coach for USA Baseball's National Team (Collegiate) during the summer. Under Kennedy's guidance, Team USA's pitching staff recorded a 2.16 ERA in the squad's 24 games and won the 2009 World Baseball Challenge title.

Closing in on 100 Coaching Wins
With 97 wins during his three seasons behind the Liberty bench, Flames Head Coach Jim Toman enters the week three games shy of career win 100.
Of the six head coaches in Liberty history, Toman is on pace to reach 100 coaching victories the fastest. Program founder and first coach Al Worthington is currently the fastest to the milestone, reaching his 100th win in 166 games. Toman has recorded his 97 wins in 156 games.

Scouting the Phoenix
Elon enters Tuesday night's contest having dropped four of its last six contests, including falling in both ends of a doubleheader to College of Charleston Saturday.
Shortstop Neal Pritchard leads the Phoenix with a .361 batting average. Catcher Mike Melillo is second with a .325 average and leads the team in runs scored with 42.
As a team, Elon has hit .299 with 60 home runs. The Phoenix are averaging 8.2 runs per game.
Tuesday's starter Ken Ferrer has posted a 6-4 record with a 6.81 ERA in 14 appearances this season, including five starts. One of the right-hander's victories came against Liberty as the starter in the two teams' prior meeting this season.
The Phoenix pitching staff begins the week with a 6.00 ERA, allowing 6.8 runs per game.

A Look at RPI
In the first Rating Percentage Index (RPI) of 2010, based on games through April 18, Liberty ranked 39th in the country. The RPI is used to select at-large teams and seed teams for the NCAA Tournament. This week, Warren Nolan.com, which approximates the RPI, shows the Flames ranked 46th.

Analyzing April
The Flames have posted a 13-3 record, including a 11-1 Big South mark, so far during the month of April. Liberty is scheduled to play 18 games during the month.
Last season, the Flames finished the month of April with a 10-8 record. Liberty posted a 9-3 mark in Big South Conference play. Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 344-284-1 (.548) in April.

Home Sweet Home
For the past 32 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. Named for program architect and the first Liberty head baseball coach, Al Worthington, Liberty has compiled an impressive 519-235-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .688 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames have posted a 14-6 record at Worthington this season. Liberty is slated to play 28 contests at home in 2010.
The Flames finished the 2009 regular season with a 19-5 record at the facility and are 43-23-1 at home under three-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.

Rolling on the Road
Propelled by a nine-game road winning streak, the Flames have posted a 13-5 mark on the road this season. Liberty's nine-game win streak is currently the third longest in the country. The Flames are also 2-0 in contests on neutral fields.
Head Coach Jim Toman's team finished 2009 with a 11-13 final road ledger. The Flames also compiled a 3-3 record on neutral fields.

What is It About Fridays?
The Flames are 9-1 in Friday contests this season, outscoring their opponents, 80-39. Toman's squad is hitting .319 on the sixth day of the week, while holding opponents to a .216 average.

Scoring First
Liberty has gotten on the scoreboard first in 30 of its 40 contests this season. The Flames are 25-5, when scoring first. Liberty is 4-6 when its opponents score first in a contest.

Flames Continue Big South Win Streak
With a three-game sweep of Presbyterian over the weekend, Liberty has won nine-straight Big South Conference contests. The win streak ties the 1998 and 2002 Flames for the second-longest conference win skein in program history. The 2001 Liberty team has the longest win conference win streak, winning 10-straight Big South games from April 14 through May 12. The Flames finished 13-7 in the Big South standings that season.

Teufel Named Big South Co-Pitcher of the Week
Liberty left-hander Shawn Teufel has been selected the Big South Co-Pitcher of the Week for games played April 19-25. The senior shares the award with Gardner-Webb reliever Adam Izokovic.
Teufel pitched his second complete game of the season and his first career shutout in blanking Presbyterian College on Saturday. He scattered five hits and was never challenged after the first inning, holding the Blue Hose to a .161 batting average and striking out eight. Just two Blue Hose runners reached second base over the final eight innings in Liberty's 13-0 victory.

Bats Power Recent Success
The Flames have won 16 out of their last 19 games to post a .842 winning percentage over the span. Fueling the surge, which started on March 27, are the Liberty bats. The Flames have hit .358 as a team during the stretch, raising their team average 29 points, from .299 to .329.
Over the 19 games, two Flames have hit better than .400, led by outfielder Curran Redal who has hit .455 during the stretch, with 40 hits to raise his batting average to a team-leading .393. He has had 11 multi-hit games, including a five and a four-hit game during the stretch.
Second baseman P.J. Jimenez has hit .440 over the span, while outfielder Michael Robertson has posted a .415 average.

Flames Among Big South Leaders
Shawn Teufel has posted a 8-1 record to lead the Big South in wins. Teufel also leads the conference with 70 innings pitched. The left-hander will also enter the week ranked third in the league with a 2.19 ERA and fourth in strikeouts with 61.
Fellow pitcher Steven Evans is also among the Big South leaders in ERA and strikeouts. The left-hander has posted a 3.23 ERA and struck out 56 batters to rank fifth in the conference in both categories.
On the hitting side, outfielder Curran Redal ranks second in the conference with 66 hits and his .393 batting average is tied for fifth. The senior is also fourth in the Big South with a .478 on-base percentage.

Beakler K's 15
Liberty reliever Dane Beakler struck out 15 batters, the most by a Liberty pitcher in a single contest since 2000, as the Liberty Flames held off the Presbyterian Blue Hose, 8-7, Friday in the opening contest of a Big South three-game series at the PC Baseball Complex.
Beakler entered the game in the bottom of the first inning for the Flames and quickly restored order to move to 4-2 on the year. The senior right-hander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless frames of relief, striking out a personal career-high and Liberty season-high of 15 batters.
The strikeout total is the most by a Flames pitcher since Dan Valentin had 15 strikeouts in a complete game, 5-0 shutout victory at UNC Asheville on April 29, 2000. The Liberty record for a single game is 20 strikeouts by Benji Miller in a 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on May 10, 1998 to clinch the Flames' second Big South title.
Liberty reliever Dane Beakler struck out 15 batters, the most by a Liberty pitcher in a single contest since 2000, as the Liberty Flames held off the Presbyterian Blue Hose, 8-7, Friday in the opening contest of a Big South three-game series at the PC Baseball Complex.
Beakler entered the game in the bottom of the first inning for the Flames and quickly restored order to move to 4-2 on the year. The senior right-hander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless frames of relief, striking out a personal career-high and Liberty season-high of 15 batters.
The strikeout total is the most by a Flames pitcher since Dan Valentin had 15 strikeouts in a complete game, 5-0 shutout victory at UNC Asheville on April 29, 2000. The Liberty record for a single game is 20 strikeouts by Benji Miller in a 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on May 10, 1998 to clinch the Flames' second Big South title.