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Liberty to Open 2017 Big South Baseball Championship, Tuesday

May 22, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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May 23-27
Lexington County Baseball Stadium
Lexington, S.C.


2017 Big South Baseball Championship Central

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Quick Hits
• Liberty  finished second in the 2017 Big South Conference standings with a 16-8 mark and enters the week with a 32-21 overall record. The Flames took two games of a three-game conference series against Presbyterian to close out the regular season, this past weekend.

 • The Flames will be making their 21st appearance at the Big South Baseball Championship. Liberty is the tournament's No. 2 seed.  Liberty has won four Big South titles, with the last one coming in 2013. Liberty is 58-32 all-time in the tournament.
• Liberty will be meeting Gardner-Webb in the Big South tournament for the first time since 2011, the only year the two teams have met in the Big South Championship. That season, the two spilt a pair of games.
• Liberty finished the regular season as the Big South Conference leader in team earned run average (4.25), runs scored (378) and  RBI (340).
• The 2017 season is Liberty's first under head coach Scott Jackson.  Jackson, who was an assistant coach at Liberty in 2008, spent the past eight seasons as an assistant on head coach Mike Fox's staff at North Carolina. 
Flames at the Big South Baseball Championship
• Liberty is making its 21st appearance at the Big South Baseball Championship. The Flames are the tournament's No. 2 seed after posting a 16-8 mark during the conference's regular season.
• Liberty has been the No. 2 seed on three previous occasions, 2008, 2010 and 2011. The Flames have neve won a Big South Championship as the No. 2 seed.
• Last season, Liberty beacame the first No. 7 seed in the 15-year history of the Big South's eight-team field to win its first three games. The Flames swept through their bracket to reach the final against No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina, falling, 1-0, to the eventual NCAA National Champion.
• The Flames have advanced to the Big South title game eight times in program history. Liberty captured its fourth and last Big South title in 2013, winning the Big South Baseball Championship at Liberty Baseball Stadium as the No. 5 seed.
• Liberty has claimed the conference title in 1993, 1998, 2000 and 2013.
• The Flames enter the 2017 championship having compiled a 58-32 overall record in previous tournament appearances.
• After opening the tournament against High Point each of the last two tournaments, Liberty will open against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday. The Flames and Runnin' Bulldogs have met twice in the tournament. Both meetings came in 2011 at VMI's Patchin Field in Lexington, Va.
Artis Among National Leaders
Liberty sophomore D.J. Artis begins the week among the national leaders in walks and on base percentage. 
The outfielder moved into the national lead in bases on balls. Currently, he leads the country with 59 and with a 1.18 free passes per game average. Artis also is Liberty's all-time career leader in walks with 111.
On May 14, Artis led off the Flames' 8-6 win over VCU by drawing his 53rd walk of 2017 to set a new program record for bases on balls in a season, breaking his old mark of 52 which he set as a freshman last year.
In addition, Artis is second in the country with a .531 OBP.  UC Irvine designated hitter Keston Hiura tops the category with a .550 OBP.
Artis leads the Big South not only in on base percentage and walks, but paces the conference with a .360  batting average and 55 runs scored.  He is tied for fifth in the Big South with 45 RBI and tied for second with 21 stolen bases.
Talking Taormina
Flames first baseman Sammy Taormina continues to have quite a final year of collegiate baseball at the plate. The redshirt senior finished the regular season as the Big South leader in RBI with 54 and second in total bases with 113 total bases. 
Taormina completed the regular season with a .316 batting average, with team-highs  in doubles (15) and home runs (10). He has also scored 38 runs.  
The first baseman appeared sixth in the Big South with a .547 slugging percentage and was among the conference leaders in hits (7th), doubles (tied-3rd), home runs (tied-4th), on base percentage (7th), runs scored (tied-9th), total bases (2nd) and walks (3rd).
He led the Flames with 19 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI contests, including six contests with four or more. On April 28, Taormina collected a career-high seven RBI with three hits and two home runs in Liberty's victory at Longwood.
The Rock Hill, S.C., native began the year, hitting .577 in seven games over the first two weeks of the 2017 season. Taormina was named the Big South Player of the Week, each week.
Around the Diamond
• C Payton Scarbrough will be playing in his second Big South Tournament. Last season, Scarbrough started all four games, hitting .267.
• One of three Flames to start every game of the 2017 regular season, 2B Andrew Kowalo reached base in 48 of 53 games. Kowalo hit his seventh home run of the season at Duke, last Tuesday night.
• 3B Trey McDyre has reached base in 38 of the 41 games he has played in and has at least one hit in 34 of his 40 starts in 2017.  McDyre has hit .357 in road contests.
• OF Jake Barbee finished the regular season second in the Big South with 50 runs scored. The senior, who has started every game of 2017 in left field, is also among the conference leaders in RBI.
• OF Will Shepherd batted .467 with two doubles and four RBI, scoring three times in four games, last week. The senior was named to the 2016 Big South All-Tournament team, after hitting .500  with four doubles, a home run and six runs scored.
• RHP Evan Mitchell fiinished the regular season third in the Big South with a 2.76 ERA and third in wins with six. The right-hander posted a 6-1 mark over a team-leading 71 2/3 innings.
• In a team-leading 22 appearances, RHP Cody Gamble has posted a 2.45 ERA with a WHIP of 0.91. Gamble enters the week with a 4.6 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has stranded 72 percent of the runners he has inherited.