The Liberty Athletics Department, the Flames Club and the Liberty Flames baseball program have announced the opportunity for Liberty alumni and fans to kick off the upcoming 2019 season with a memorable evening at the program's annual First Pitch Banquet. The banquet is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Montview Student Union Alumni Ballroom.
"On behalf of our entire program, we are eager to kick off the 2019 season with our First Pitch Banquet," stated Liberty Head Coach Scott Jackson. "Last year's inaugural event allowed our players, their families, alumni, boosters, and staff to usher in a new season. We can't wait to enjoy another evening together with those who want to celebrate Liberty Baseball!"
Tickets for the banquet are $35.00 and $15.00 for those 12 and under. Flames Club members receive an exclusive price of $25.00.Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the ticket office at 434-582-SEAT.
Former Liberty infielder Matt Hagen, currently manager of the Texas Rangers' Class A affiliate Hickory Crawdads, will be the evening's featured speaker. Hagen played at Liberty from 1998-2002, earning Big South All-Conference honors at third base in 2002. He was also a member of the 2000 Flames squad which captured the Big South title and participated in a NCAA Regional. The 2000 team was the first Liberty team in any sport to win a NCAA Division I Tournament game, when the Flames defeated Seton Hall 10-2 in the Columbia, S.C., Regional.
Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 12th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft, he went on to play 11 seasons of professional baseball for various minor league and independent teams.
Hagen served as a volunteer assistant coach with the Flames in 2007 and again in 2012. He also was a member of the Liberty Strength and Conditioning staff in 2008 and 2009.
In 2017, Texas named the manager of its Short Season Class A affiliate, the Spokane Indians and in 2018, was promoted to the manager of Hickory.
The First Pitch Banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a meet and greet with Hagen and the 2019 Liberty Flames. The dinner program to follow at 7 p.m.
The Flames will open their 2019 season on Feb. 15 at South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Liberty's first home game is slated for Feb. 19 against Wake Forest. First pitch against the Demon Deacons at Liberty Baseball Stadium is set for 3 p.m.