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Liberty to Host Virginia Tech on the Diamond, Tuesday

March 21, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Flames outfielder Doug Bream

Flames outfielder Doug Bream

Complete Baseball Notes (Virginia Tech)

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Winners of seven out of their last eight, the Liberty Flames (12-9, 3-0 Big South) continue their seven-game homestand, with a non-conference contest with the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-10, 0-6 ACC), Tuesday at Worthington Stadium.  First pitch is set for 3 p.m.
    
Last Time Out
Liberty completed a sweep of its first Big South series of the season, with a 5-2 victory over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, Sunday.
Left-hander Steven Evans struck out a career-high 12 batters in becoming the third Liberty pitcher to throw a complete game in as many days and right fielder Michael Robertson hit a two-run home run to lead the Flames.
Evans went the full nine innings for the first time this season and the fifth time in his career.  With back-to-back wins, the left-hander moved to 2-3 on the year. He allowed two runs on six hits, fanning 12 to set a new career-high and walked one.
Robertson hit his two-run home run in the sixth inning and had two hits in the contest, driving in three runs.
    
On Deck
This weekend, Liberty will close out its homestand with a Big South series against  the Winthrop Eagles. The series will start Friday evening at  7 p.m. at Worthington Stadium, followed by games Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. All three games are scheduled to be televised by the Liberty Channel.
    
Following the Flames
Tuesday's game will be video streamed LIVE.  The feed will be available for a nominal fee on the Big South Network. The video stream will be available on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and BigSouthSports.com. In additon, the contest may  be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM radio and at LibertyFlames.com. Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary for the broadcast.

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 529-240-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .687 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames are 5-2 on the year at Worthington Stadium. Liberty posted a 19-9 record at home in 2010. The Flames are 52-27-1 at home under four-year head coach Jim Toman's guidance.

March Musings
Liberty will begin the week with a 9-4 record during the month of March. With one game canceled this month due to inclement weather, Jim Toman's squad has five games remaining in  the month, including Tuesday's contest.
Liberty posted a 10-8 mark in games during March last season, including a 1-2 start to Big South Conference play. The Flames are 356-279-2 (.560) all-time during the month.

Get Your Running Shoes On
What a difference a year makes.  So far this season, Liberty has tried to take advantage of its team speed, doubling its stolen base total from a year ago. The Flames have stolen 39 bases in 49 attempts this season, compared to 2010, when the Flames swiped only 14 bases in 22 tries through 21 games. Liberty's 39 stolen bases leads Radford by one for the Big South Conference lead.
Leading the way for the Flames is catcher Casey Rasmus who is 9-for-9 in steal attempts this season. He is currently third in the Big South Conference in steals. Center fielder Ian Parmley who is  next with seven thefts (7-11).         
The Flames stolen base totals are definitely a stark contrast from last season, when only outfielder Kenneth Negron had stolen four bases at this point in the year. This season, four Liberty players have five or more base thefts.  Outfielders Michael Robertson (six) and Doug Bream join the previously mentioned Rasmus and Parmley, with more than four stolen bases.

Casey Rasmus - Base Cop    
Flames catcher Casey Rasmus has been tough on base stealers this season.  The junior has thrown out 48% (12-of-25) would-be base thieves this year.  Rasmus leads the Big South Conference in caught base stealers.
On the flip side, the catcher leads Liberty and ranks third in the Big South with nine steals.  Rasmus is 9-for-9 in steal attempts.    

Picking Up the Pace
With new bats and new rules to speed up time between innings and govern mound visits, the time Flames contests have been played in this season has seen a significant drop.  So far this season, Liberty games have run an average of 2:20, compared to 2:45 minutes at this point in the season in 2010, a 25-minute difference.  
Last season through 21 games, Liberty had already played six games which lasted three hours or longer, with the  the longest being 3:43 in a 14-13, 10 inning setback to Manhattan on March 20.  This season, the Flames have had only three games go over three hours, the longest 3:11 in a 17-5 loss in game two of a twinbill at Mercer on Feb. 19.

Are New Bats Affecting Power Numbers?
How much has the new bat affected play this season? While the Flames have only six less hits than last season through 21, Liberty has seen its extra base hits drop. The Flames have  50 extra base hits - 35 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs, so far in 2011. Liberty has a .387 slugging percentage.
In comparison at this point last season, the Flames had 24 more extra base hits or  32% more than this season. Jim Toman's 2010 club had 74 extra base hits - 53 doubles, three triples and 18 home runs at this point in the season. Also, it had a .455 slugging percentage.