The Flames celebrate catcher Trey Wimmer's walk-off home run against Gardner-Webb, May 25 at the 2012 Big South Championship.
For the second time in three years and only the third time in school history, the Liberty Flames won 40 or more games in a season. The Flames posted a 41-19 record in 2012, the team's fifth year under head coach Jim Toman.
In addition, Liberty posted a 14-10 record in Big South play, finishing in third place in the conference's regular season standings. Below is a brief recap of the recently completed campaign.
Second Time to 40 Wins in Past Three Years • With a 7-0 win over No. 2 seed Campbell on May 24 at the Big South Championship, the Liberty Flames claimed their 40th victory of 2012. It is the second time in three years the Flames have won 40 or more games. • Liberty finished with 41 wins, the second most in season during the program's 39 years. In 2010, the Flames won a school-record 43 games. Both came under head coach Jim Toman. • During Toman's five years as head coach, Liberty has averaged 37.4 wins a season, the most of any head coach in program history. • Flames have won 35 or more games in four out of Toman's five years at the helm of the program.
New School Standards for ERA and Fielding • The Flames set single-season program records for ERA and fielding percentage in 2012. • Liberty posted a 3.04 team ERA, eclipsing the previous standard of 3.06 established 22 years ago by the 1980 Flames. • Liberty's ERA ranks 15th nationally. • The Flames had three pitchers – Patrick Eckelbarger, Jacob Kemmerer, and John Niggli – finish among the Big South Top 10 in ERA. Niggli finished fourth, while Kemmerer was seventh and Eckelbarger ninth. • Defensively, Liberty finished the year with a .975 fielding percentage to surpass the .974 fielding percentage of the 2009 Flames. • In 2012, Liberty gave up 217 runs, the fewest by a Flames team since allowing 209 in 1991. The school record for fewest runs allowed in a season is 171 in 1980. • Liberty finished the season tied for 12th in the country in runs allowed per game. The Flames gave up only 3.4 runs per game in 2012.
Flames Set New Big South Shutout Record • Senior right-hander Patrick Eckelbarger's four-hit, complete-game 7-0 victory over No. 2 seed Campbell on May 24 at the Big South Championship was Liberty's 11th shutout of the year, setting a new Big South record. • Liberty's 11 blankings eclipse the 2000 Winthrop Eagles' mark of 10. • Liberty leads the nation with 11 shutouts. • The Flames more than doubled the previous Liberty record of four shutouts in a season. The 1978, 1981 and 2001 teams each pitched four shutouts in a year to set the previous standard. • Liberty opened the season with back-to-back shutouts, Feb. 17 and 18, at the Citadel Challenge. It was the first time in the program's 39-year history the Flames opened a campaign with two shutouts. • The back-to-back shutouts were the first by the Flames since March 1996, when Liberty blanked Delaware St. twice at the North Florida Tournament by identical scores of 5-0. Close Named Freshman All-American • Liberty first baseman Alex Close was named to the 2012 Louisville Slugger and National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBWA) Freshman All-American teams. • He becomes the fifth Flame in the program's history to be named to a Freshman All-American squad. • Close joins Tyler Bream (2009), Aaron Grijalva (2005), Kevin Bulter (2000) and Joey Monahan (2000), as Flames who were selected to Freshman All-American teams. • Close was selected as the 2012 Big South Freshman of the Year by the conference's head coaches, becoming the first Liberty player to be named as the conference's Freshman of the Year since outfielder Kevin Butler in 2000. Flames pitcher Tim Harrell also was named the Big South Freshman of the Year in 1995. • Close finished the year by batting .304 with 47 RBIs and 37 runs scored. He hit a conference-leading and team-leading 14 home runs.
Three Flames Taken in MLB Draft – Parmley the Highest Pick Since 2004 • Outfielder Ian Parmley along with pitchers John Niggli and Blake Forslund were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. • With their selections, Liberty has had 49 players selected in the 39-year history of its baseball program and has had a player selected in every draft since 2000. • The Toronto Blue Jays selected Parmley in the seventh round with the 235th pick of the draft. He becomes the highest Liberty draft pick since pitcher Jason Jones was taken by the New York Yankees in the fourth round of the 2004 MLB Draft. • The Texas Rangers took right-hander Niggli in the ninth round with 306th pick of the draft. Niggli becomes the first Liberty player ever selected by the Rangers. • The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Forslund in the 15th round with the 483rd pick of the draft. The right-hander, who worked exclusively out of the Liberty bullpen in 2012, was picked in the 17th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2011.
Toman Guides Flames to Best Mark Over First Five Years • With a 187-108-1 mark, a .633 winning percentage, Jim Toman has led the Flames to the best mark of any head coach during his first five years at Liberty. • Liberty has posted two of its program's three 40-win seasons under Toman and Liberty has posted 35 or more wins in four of his five years at the helm of the program. • During Toman's five years as head coach, Liberty has averaged 37.4 wins a season, the most of any head coach in program history.
New Consecutive Innings Scoreless Streak • During the week of Feb. 27-March 4, the Flames did not allow a run for 39 consecutive innings to set a new program record. • The mark surpassed the 23 consecutive scoreless innings the Flames posted to begin the 2012 season, Feb. 17-18. • Fueling the streak was Liberty's three consecutive shutouts in a win over No. 14 Virginia and two wins over Coppin State. It is the first time in program history Liberty has pitched three consecutive shutouts.
2012 Flames Reach 30 Wins the Fastest • With their 11-1 win over Winthrop on April 15, the 2012 Liberty Flames recorded their 30th win of the year in their 39th game. • Head Coach Jim Toman's team matched the 1981 Liberty team by reaching 30 wins during a season the fastest in program history. • Liberty has won 30 or more games in each of the past eight years. Sharing the Saves • The Liberty pitching staff recorded 14 saves, with 10 different Flames earning at least one during the season. • Senior right-hander Jacob Kemmerer led the Flames with three saves, while junior right-hander Patrick Bankemper and freshman left-hander Jared Lyons each had two saves.
Close Sets Big South and School HR Records • Liberty first baseman Alex Close hit 14 home runs in 2012, breaking the Big South and Liberty record for home runs in a season by a freshman. • Close connected on a three-run blast in the first inning of Liberty's 7-0 win over Campbell at the Big South Championship on May 24 to eclipse the previous Big South mark, held by four former players. • The first baseman passed Pat Sipe's 12 home runs in 1983 to set a new Liberty freshman standard. • Close led the Big South and Liberty in the category. His 2012 total ranks seventh on the program's single-season list.
Niggli's Final Season One for the Books • Senior right-hander John Niggli was named to the 2012 Big South All-Conference team in his final season at Liberty. • The right-hander finished his career with a 2.86 ERA, the lowest in Liberty history of pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched. Niggli's ERA surpasses Marc Leatherwood who recorded a 2.90 ERA from 1978-81. • Niggli finished 2012 with a 9-4 record with one save and a 2.17 ERA. His nine wins and 2.17 ERA rank fifth on each of the program's single-season lists. • The right-hander pitched 103 2/3 innings in 2012 to lead the Big South in innings pitched, while ranking second in the conference in wins and fourth in ERA. • He was named Big South Pitcher of the Week three times this past season, Feb. 18, Mar. 4 and April 16.
Parmley Puts Name among Liberty All-time Base Stealers • 2012 Big South All-Conference first team outfielder Ian Parmley finished his career with 57 stolen bases. • The total places the senior sixth on Liberty's all-time stolen base list. • In each of his two seasons with the Flames, Parmley's single-season total ranked on the program's list. The outfielder stole 30 this year, the fifth-most in a single season, while in 2011, he swiped 27, the seventh most in program history. • Parmley tied for the Big South lead in stolen bases this past season. His 30 stolen bases are the most by a Flame since 2004, when Jeremiah Boles stole 31.
Haley Leads Big South in Doubles • Senior shortstop Zack Haley belted 21 doubles in 2012 to lead the Big South. He hit more than twice as many doubles than in 2012 than he had in 2011, when he had 10 two-base hits. • His season total ties him for fifth on the Liberty single season list, with Cody Brown (2008), P.K. Keller (2008) and Mark deYmaz (1981). • Haley, who was named to the 2012 Big South All-Conference second team, hit .303 with 25 RBIs and 45 runs scored. He started every game at shortstop for the Flames, committing only 11 errors in 277 chances (.960 fielding percentage).
Parmley Finishes on Single-Season Run Producers List • Senior outfielder Ian Parmley posted single-season career highs in hits (78), runs scored (66), RBIs (26), doubles (10), walks (36) and stolen bases (30) during the 2012 season. • Parmley's 66 runs scored are the second most in a single season by a Flame. Chad Miller scored the most runs in a season with 68 in 2006. • The 2012 Big South All-Conference first team outfielder tied for the conference lead in runs scored and stolen bases. He also ranked fifth in hits and second in walks.
Aanderud Makes Mark in First Season • Infielder Bryan Aanderud placed his name among the Big South leaders in several categories in his first year at Liberty. • The second baseman was selected to the 2012 Big South All-Conference second team. • The junior college transfer finished the year third in the conference in batting average (.368), hits (81), RBIs (53) and on base percentage (.471). He also was fifth in the Big South in walks (32). • Aanderud led the Flames in batting average, hits, RBIs and on base percentage.
Eckelbarger Finishes Strong • Senior Patrick Eckelbarger completed his Liberty career in grand fashion, holding Campbell, the Big South's top offense to four hits, in a complete-game 7-0 shutout at the Big South Championship, May 24. • The complete game was the right-hander's third of the season and helped earn him a spot on the 2012 Big South All-Tournament team. • Eckelbarger posted the lowest opponent batting average, .213, and tied for the lead with three complete games in the Big South Conference this season. • He finished the year with a 7-1 record and a 3.09 ERA over 75 2/3 innings. • Eckelbarger did not allow a run for 19 innings to begin 2012.
2012 Liberty Award Winners
Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Alex Close NCBWA Freshman All-American Alex Close Big South Freshman of the Year Alex Close
Big South All-Conference John Niggli, first team, starting pitcher Ian Parmley, first team, outfielder Bryan Aanderud, second team, second base Zack Haley, second team, shortstop
Big South All-Academic Ian Parmley Big South All-Tournament Alex Close, infielder Patrick Eckelbarger, starting pitcher Trey Wimmer, catcher
Big South Pitcher of the Week John Niggli (3 times - 2/19, 3/4, & 4/16)
Big South Player of the Week Ryan Cordell (4/16)
College Baseball Foundation All-Star Line-up John Niggli (3/5)
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