Tyler Bream is greeted by his teammates after walk-off home run Wednesday against Virginia Tech. The Flames face the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs in three-game Big South series this weekend.
Complete Games Notes (PDF)
The Games The Liberty Flames (27-12, 14-3 Big South) travels to Boiling Springs, N.C., to square off with Big South Conference newcomer Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (20-16, 9-6 Big South) in a three-game conference series at Williams H. Masters Field, Friday-Sunday. The series gets underway Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. start time for game two of the set on Saturday. The finale of the series is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. What to Watch The Liberty Flames begin the weekend, riding a four-game winning streak. Last weekend, the Flames swept a three-game conference series from Winthrop to take over the top spot in the Big South standings. Liberty has hit .320 as team this season and has averaged 7.46 runs per game. The Flames have also used the extra base hit to their advantage this season with 146 (87 2Bs, 10 3Bs, 49 HRs). Six Liberty hitters are batting over .300 topped by center fielder Curran Redal, who begins the weekend with a .397, fourth in the Big South. Third baseman Tyler Bream has hit .350 with 11 RBIs and four home runs over his last 10 games. Bream is second in the conference with 49 RBIs. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez has paced the Flames at the plate over the last 10 contests with a .400 average. Steven Evans, who will start Friday, and Shawn Teufel, who is slated to start Saturday's game, have six wins each. Evans has a 6-2 record with a 3.48 ERA. Teufel has won five consecutive games to run his season's mark to 6-1 with a 4.63 ERA. Reliever Andrew Wilson has picked up a win and four saves in nine game over the past three weekends. The senior right-hander has a 4-1 record with a 3.19 ERA. In its first year in the Big South Conference, Gardner-Webb has posted nine victories to enter the weekend with a 9-6 mark in conference play. Like the Flames, the Bulldogs swept their conference series last weekend, taking three from UNC Asheville. Third baseman Justin Loyd begins the weekend as the Big South's second-leading hitter with a .414 batting average. He is also among the conference leaders with a team-leading 41 RBIs. Five other Gardner-Webb players are hitting over .300, as the Bulldogs enter the series with a .326 team batting average. Pitchers Ryan Maxa and Brett Stackhouse each have recorded four victories to pace the Bulldog mound staff. Maxa has a team-leading 4.24 ERA.
The Coaches Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his second year at the helm of the Flames. In this first season at Liberty, he guided the Flames to a 35-26-1 mark, the best record by a Liberty team under a first-year coach in program history. This season, he got the Flames off to the second-best start in the history of Liberty baseball through games. A 20-year member of the college coaching ranks, he served 18 years as a member of Ray Tanner's staffs at South Carolina and N.C. State. Toman was named the 2002 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and recruited 15 top 25 classes, including all 11 of his seasons at South Carolina. From 2003-2006, three of the four Gamecock recruiting classes were ranked first in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. During his time in Columbia, S.C., Toman and the Gamecocks made nine NCAA Regional appearances, including eight-straight since 2000, and three-consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002-04). Add in his seven seasons at N.C. State, and Toman has helped lead 15 teams to NCAA Regional appearances. Gardner-Webb Head Coach Randy Troupe is in his seventh year guiding the Bulldogs. Troupe last season lead Gardner-Webb to a 29-30 record and run to the A-Sun Championship game in their final season at the conference. The 20-year coaching veteran has posted 192 victories over his career. Following the Flames This season, the Flames Sports Network plans to broadcast several Liberty baseball regular season games. Games will air live on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light" and on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com. In addition, selected games will be video streamed live on the internet via the Big South Edge, available on BigSouthSports.com. The stream can be accessed for a nominal fee through a link on LibertyFlames.com or by going directly to BigSouthSports.com. Live stats are available for each Liberty contest by clicking on the various Live Stats links at LibertyFlames.com. Best Big South Start With its sweep over the weekend, the Flames are off to their best conference start in program history with a 14-3 record. Liberty's 14 victories are just one shy of the most Big South wins in a season since the Flames started conference play in 1992. The 1995 Liberty team's 15 wins are the most ever in Big South action by a Flames team. That season, Liberty went 15-9. The Last Time Out With two men aboard and trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, third baseman Tyler Bream connected for a two-out, three run walk-off home run, propelling the Flames past the Virginia Tech Hokies, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. After 13 consecutive batters had been retired, the Flames got the first two hitters of the ninth inning on base. Shortstop Matt Williams drew a walk to open the inning and center fielder Curran Redal dropped a single into center field. After the next two Liberty batters were retired, Bream worked a 3-2 count against reliever Ben Rowen, before belting his eighth home run of the year over the right field wall for the 4-3 victory. Designated hitter Cody Brown also hit a home run for the Flames. Liberty's four hurlers on the afternoon gave up three runs on four hits, striking out five and walking one. Bream's blast gave freshman hurler John Long his first collegiate win. Redal Breaks Big South Consecutive Game Hit Mark Center fielder Curran Redal singled through the left side of the infield in the first inning, last Friday night against Winthrop, to hit safely in his 32nd game in a row, a new Big South record. The junior breaks the previous mark of 31-consecutive games with at least one hit, which he held with UNC Asheville shortstop Kevin Weidenbacher. The UNC Asheville shortstop set the previous record last season. During the streak, the junior hit .452, collecting 57 hits in 126 at bats. He has also drove in all 40 of his season's RBI total over the span. Taking One for the Team Entering play this week, Liberty batters have been hit by a pitch 76 times this season. Flame batters have been plunked by an opposition an average of two times per game. Liberty ranked fourth in the nation in the category in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, through games of April 19, with 76. This year, Flames batters have been hit by a pitch seven times in a game twice to set a new school standard. Temple pitchers hit seven Liberty hitters on March 7 and High Point hurlers plunked seven Flames on March 22. Last season, the Flames set a new school record by being hit by a pitch 82 times. The mark eclipsed the previous standard of 75 in the 2001 season. Fine Fielding Jim Toman's squad ranked No. 11 in the nation in fielding percentage with a .977 percentage in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report, for games through April 12. In addition, the percentage tops the Big South Conference. Liberty has committed 34 errors in 1491 chances this season. The Flames fielding percentage is 17 points higher than at the same juncture of the year, last season. Through 39 games, Liberty had made 64 errors, 30 more than this year, in 1572 chances for a .960 fielding percentage in 2008. The Flames ended the year with a .963 percentage. The best team fielding percentage over a season in school history was set by the 2005 Flames. That season, Liberty posted a .971 fielding percentage and also committed the fewest errors in school history with 62.
A Look Ahead Liberty travels to Charlottesville, Va., to square off with the No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers, Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Davenpot Stadium. Next weekend, the Flames will travel to Conway, S.C., for a three-game Big South Conference series with the No. 19 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The series opener gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
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