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Baseball Opens Season at Mercer

February 17, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Junior outfielder Michael Robertson

Junior outfielder Michael Robertson

Complete Baseball Notes (Mercer)

ve Stats

Radio Broadcasts (Friday and Sunday)

The Liberty Flames (0-0) travel to Macon, Ga., to open their 2011 campaign with a four-game weekend series with the Mercer Bears, Friday-Sunday. Mercer (0-0), the 2010 Atlantic Sun Champion, has been selected by the conference's head coaches to capture the league's crown again this season. Liberty, which set a school record with 42 wins in 2010, was picked to finish second in the Big South Conference in its preseason poll. 
The series will begin with the first contest of the year for either team, Friday at 4 p.m. at Claude Smith Field. Saturday, the Flames and the Bears will square off in a doubleheader, with the first game scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The series closes on Sunday, with a single game at 1 p.m. The series is the first of nine consecutive road games to open the season for Liberty.

Following the Flames
Friday and Sunday's games between the Flames and Bears may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 "The Light" FM or over the World Wide Web via a link on Nick Pierce will handle play-by-play duties for the audio broadcasts. 

Last Time Out
Liberty fell to No.4-ranked Coastal Carolina, 8-2, in the title game of the Big South Championship at Winthrop Ballpark on May 29, 2010. The Flames completed the year with a 42-19 record. Liberty's 42 victories set a new school record for wins in a season. The Flames also finished the Big South Conference regular season with a 19-7 conference mark, posting the most wins in year since joining the league in 1992.

On Deck
The Flames will continue their nine-game, season-opening road swing, by traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 25-27 for a four-game series with the North Florida Ospreys. Friday's series opener will be the first night game of the year of the Flames, with start time scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the two teams are scheduled to meet in a doubleheader, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday's series finale is also scheduled for 1 p.m.

All-Time Series Against Mercer
This weekend's series between the Flames and the Bears will be the only the second time, the two squads have meet on the diamond.
Liberty holds a 1-0 edge in the all-time series, after a 3-2 victory over Mercer on Feb. 22, 2009 in the Coca-Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala. Locked in a pitcher's duel through seven innings, an infield single by left fielder Jeff Jefferson, a member of the 2011 Flames' roster, in the eighth inning plated second baseman P.J. Jimenez with the winning run for the Flames in the win.
Left-hander Steven Evans, who is scheduled to start the 2011 season opener for Liberty, gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings in his first start of the 2009 season. He struck out six batters and did not yield a walk. However, he did not figure in the decision.

Standing Tall in Season Openers
Friday's contest at Mercer will be the 38th season opener in program history for the Flames. Liberty enters the 2011 season lid-lifter having recorded a 24-11 mark in campaign openers since 1976.
After defeating Kennesaw State, 10-4, on Feb. 18 to begin the 2010 season, the Flames are 2-1 in season openers under head coach Jim Toman. Third baseman Tyler Bream went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and four RBIs in the contest.
In his first contest as Liberty head coach, the Flames defeated Notre Dame, 6-2, at Jack Russell Stadium on Feb. 22, 2008 in the Clearwater, Fla. Invitational.

Connections - Part I
Three Liberty Flames, catcher Casey Rasmus, third baseman Tyler Bream and infielder Austin Taylor, each have connections to Major League Baseball through family members.
Rasmus, a junior, is in his first season as a member of the Liberty roster. His brother Colby is a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and enters his third season as an outfielder with the team in 2011.
Bream, also a junior, is the son of former major leaguer Sid Bream. Sid Bream, a Liberty standout during his collegiate days, played 12 seasons in the majors (1983-94) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.
Taylor, a senior, is the nephew of former major leaguer Bill Taylor. Bill Taylor spent parts of eight seasons with the Oakland A's, New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays.

Connections - Part II
Three Flames are carrying on a family tradition, as a member of their family formerly played baseball at Liberty.
First baseman/outfielder Doug Bream's uncle Dave was a member of the Liberty baseball program from 1982-85.
Third baseman Tyler Bream's father, Sid, and two uncles, Dave and Sheldon, were members of the Flames. Sid, who went on to play in the major leagues, was a standout for Liberty on the diamond from 1979-81. The first baseman and Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame member was named a NAIA and NABC All-American in 1981, as the Flames reached the NAIA National Tournament.
Bream's uncles, Dave and Sheldon, were also members of the Flames baseball team during their college days. Dave played infield for Liberty from 1982-85, while Sheldon was an outfielder with the Flames from 1989-93. Tyler and Doug are second cousins.
Meanwhile, pitcher Garrett Baker begins his first season at Liberty. The junior left-hander's brothers, Jason and Steve, played for the Flames. Jason patrolled the outfield for the Flames from 1993-95, earning first team All-Big South honors in 1995. Steve was also an outfielder at Liberty from 1999-02. He was named to the Big South all-conference second team in 2002.

The Captains
Seniors Jeff Jefferson, Mark Swanson and Steven Evans, along with junior Tyler Bream have been chosen as captains for the 2011 Liberty Baseball team. The four were selected by virtue of a team vote.

Flames Set New Standard for Wins in a Season
The 2010 Flames finished the year with a 42-19 overall record, setting a new program standard for wins in a single season. The 42 victories eclipsed the previous school standard of 40 set by the 1983 Liberty team.