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Liberty to Visit No. 2 South Carolina

April 25, 2011  Columbia, S.C.  RSS
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Garrett Baker

Garrett Baker

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The Liberty Flames (22-18, 12-6 Big South) travel to Columbia, S.C., for a non-conference game with the No. 2-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (31-8, 14-4 SEC), Tuesday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.  Liberty head coach Jim Toman will be returning to Columbia for the first time after serving 11 years at South Carolina as the senior assistant on the coach staff.

Last Time Out
The Flames split a doubleheader at VMI, Saturday.  Liberty took the first game, 8-6, before falling in the second game, 3-1, at Gray-Minor Stadium.
In the first game, the Flames rallied with three runs in the ninth inning and catcher Jeff Jefferson hit two home runs, downing the VMI Keydets for the victory.  Jefferson and second baseman Zack Haley hit one-out, back-to-back home runs in the ninth to give Liberty the lead. Liberty hit five home runs in the contest, the most by the Flames this season.  Liberty had previously hit three round trippers in a game last Sunday in a 7-1 win over Presbyterian College in the first game of a doubleheader.
In the second game, Liberty was held to one run on eight hits. The setback halts the Flames' seven-game win streak in conference play. Right fielder Michael Robertson, shortstop Matt Williams and Jeff Jefferson had two hits in the game for the Flames.
On Deck
Liberty returns home this Friday to host the Liberty Tournament at Worthington Stadium. The New Orleans Privateers and the Le Moyne Dolphins will also participate in the weekend tournament.  The tournament opens Friday at 1 p.m. with New Orleans and Le Moyne squaring off.  The Flames will host Le Moyne at 7 p.m. in the second game of the day.

Following the Flames
Tuesday's game may be heard LIVE on 90.9 FM "The Light" and online at Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties and former Flames pitcher Doug Wallace will provide commentary for the games.

Toman Returns to SC
Before coming to Liberty, Jim Toman  spent 11 years at South Carolina on Ray Tanner's staff at South Carolina. The Flames have not met the Gamecocks since Toman took over the reigns of the Liberty program in 2008.
During his time on the staff in Columbia, S.C., Toman and the Gamecocks made nine NCAA Regional appearances, including eight straight between 2000 and 2007, and three consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002-04).     
In addition, Toman was named the 2002 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and recruited top 25 classes in each of his seasons at South Carolina.
Toman served 18 years as a member of Ray Tanner's staffs at  both South Carolina and N.C. State. He had 16 top 25 classes during his 18 years as an assistant. Add in his seven seasons at N.C. State, and Toman helped lead 14 Tanner teams to NCAA Regional appearances.

Analyzing April
The Flames are 7-7  in the month of April. Liberty is scheduled to play 17 games in the month, with 12 coming against Big South opponents. The Flames have produced the longest winning and losing streaks of the season during the month. Liberty opened April by losing five straight games, before reversing the trend by winning five consecutive contests.
    Since 1976, the Flames have recorded an all-time mark of 352-292-1 (.547) in April. Last season, Liberty finished the month of April with a 10-8 record. The Flames posted a 9-3 mark in Big South Conference play.

Road Rumblings
The Flames are 12-13 away from home this season. Liberty is 10-13 in road contests and 2-0 in neutral site games.     Liberty is slated to play 29 regular-season contests away from home.  The Flames will square off with 27 of their opponents on their home field this season and already have met two teams, Rutgers and Monmouth, on a neutral field during the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., March 11-13.   
    The Flames went 21-10 in road contests in 2010.  Liberty posted the 10th-best road mark in the nation during the year. The Flames went 18-8 in road games and 3-2 in neutral site contests during the year.

Doing the Dougie
    On April 6, outfielder Doug Bream had a career-high five hits in a 16-12 setback at Worthington Stadium.  Bream surpassed his previous career-high of four hits in a 12-7 win over James Madison at Worthington Stadium on April 21, 2010.  It is the first time a Liberty Flame has had five hits in game since outfielder Curran Redal in a 14-8 victory over High Point in game one of a Big South Conference doubleheader at Worthington Stadium on April 3, 2010. Bream went 5-for-5 in the contest and scored three runs.
    Later in the week, the senior had two four-hit games in victories at High Point to close the week with a .737 batting average.  
    The left fielder enters Tuesday's contest with a .372 batting average, second only to shortstop Matt Williams among the Flames. He ranks seventh in the Big South Conference. He leads Liberty and is fifth in the conference with 37 RBIs.
    With seven multiple-hit games in his last 10 games, Bream has 19 multi-hit contest this season. He also leads the team with 11 multi-RBI games.  The outfielder had a season-long 12 game hit streak stopped in the second game of a doubleheader at VMI, Saturday.  The streak is tied for the longest by a Flame this season with catcher Casey Rasmus.

Williams Moves Up on Career 2Bs List
    Shortstop Matt Williams continues to climb the school's Top 10 career doubles list. With a two doubles over the weekend against Presbyterian College, Williams  now has 47 two-base hits, moving into eighth place on the all-time list. The shortstop is one double shy of tying Liberty standout Keith Butler (2000-02) for seventh on the list.
    Williams enters the week with 13 doubles on the year.  He is tied for seventh in the Big South Conference in two-base hits.  Teammate Doug Bream leads the Flames with 14 doubles and is tied for sixth in the conference in the category.
    Former Liberty outfielder Phillip Laurent (2003-06) holds the school career record for two-base hits with 68.  He also set the single season record with 27 in 2006.
    Williams' Liberty teammate Tyler Bream has also moved into the Top 10 career doubles list this season.  With 45 two-base hits, Bream ranks 10th on the school's career list.