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Liberty Hosts Rider in Home-Opening Series

February 28, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Outfielder Tim Rotola

Liberty Outfielder Tim Rotola

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The Games
   After opening the 2008 campaign with four road games, the Liberty University Flames (4-0, 0-0 Big South) open the home portion of their schedule this weekend, Feb. 29-Mar. 2.  The Flames will host the Rider Broncs (3-0, 0-0 MAAC) in a three-game series at Worthington Stadium. Friday's home opener is scheduled for 3 p.m., while first pitch for Saturday's middle contest is slated for 2 p.m.  The series will conclude on Sunday with the final game of the series at 1 p.m.
All-Time Against Rider
   Friday will be the fifth meeting between Liberty and Rider on the diamond. The Flames hold a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1999. 
  The two squads met in 2006 at Worthington Stadium with Liberty taking all three games in the weekend series, Feb. 24-26, 11-10, 7-5 and 3-2 in 10 innings. 

The Last Time Out
  The Flames led from start to finish in a 5-1 triumph over Norfolk State, Wednesday at Marty L. Miller Field in Norfolk, Va.
  Left fielder Doug Bream had two hits and knocked in Liberty's first three runs of the contest.  Lead off hitter Kenneth Negron also had two hits for the Flames in the victory. 
  Starter Andrew Wilson pitched five scoreless innings to record a win in his first outing of 2008. 

A Look at the Broncs
  Rider opened its 2008 campaign by sweeping a three-games series at Maryland-Eastern Shore last Sunday and Monday. The Broncs defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore, 9-1, in their season opener on Sunday.  Junior Mike Petrowski pitched six innings and allowed just one unearned run, striking out seven without allowing a walk in the win.  He was named MAAC Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.  On Monday, Rider took both ends of a doubleheader, 6-2 and 11-6.
   Left fielder Mo Williams, with a .571 batting average and 5 runs scored, and catcher/first baseman Sean Olsen, who has  totaled six RBIs and a .500 batting average, have paced the Broncs hitting attack in the early going.
  Last season, Rider finished 20-29 and 11-15 in the MAAC.

Flames at Worthington Stadium
   For the past 28 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium their home. The Flames have compiled an impressive 475-214-4 record at the facility for a winning percentage of .688 since the stadium's inception in 1979. Last season, Liberty went 23-9 at Worthington.  The 23 wins tie for the third most by the Flames in a year at the facility.
   This year, the Flames are slated to play 28 home games at the stadium.  Liberty hosts Rider to begin its home schedule today. The slate of 28 games is tentatively scheduled to host its first night contests in the history of the stadium this season.  The lights at the facility are to be installed by March 28, with 12 contests scheduled to be played under the lights.

Liberty in Season Lid Lifters
   Last week's season opener was the 34th since the Flames began playing baseball in 1974. With its 6-2 victory over Notre Dame at the Clearwater Invitational last Friday, Liberty now sports a 22-10 record in the first game of the season since 1976.
 The Flames have played a majority of their season openers on the road, compiling a 11-7 mark.  Meanwhile, Liberty has a 9-2 mark at home and posted 2-1 on a neutral playing field.
   The Flames have won four-straight campaign openers. Liberty has not dropped a opener since 2004.  Last season, the visiting Flames defeated East Carolina, 6-2, on catcher Errol Hollinger's grand slam.  In 2006, Liberty beat host Wofford, 4-1, while in 2005, Liberty scored five first-inning runs and Aaron Grijalva belted a home run, as  the Flames edged Old Dominion, 7-6. 

Flames Mound Staff Off to Good Start
   The Liberty pitching staff is off to a strong start in 2008.  Over the first four games of the year, the Flames' hurlers have a 1.75 ERA, allowing seven runs in 36 innings pitched.
   The Liberty staff has not allowed an opponent more than two runs in three of its four  contests this season.  Flames starters have pitched into the fifth inning on three occasions also, with last Saturday's starting hurler Ryan Page's outing cut short due to rain.


The Flames in Home Openers
   This Friday will be the 31st home opener at Liberty's Worthington Stadium. The Flames are 25-5 in home openers at the facility. 
   Last season, the Flames scored four runs in the third inning and five in the fourth in a 9-2 win over Albany in the home opener at Worthington on Feb. 23.