NASHVILLE, Tenn. The FGCU baseball team (36-20, 19-8 Atlantic Sun) earned its fourth A-Sun Regular Season Championship and first since 2010 with the combination of a 3-2 win over Lipscomb (30-26, 17-10 A-Sun) and a loss by Mercer (37-15, 17-9 A-Sun) at ETSU Friday evening.
The Eagles will enter the A-Sun Championship Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed on their home field when the tournament begins on Wednesday.
FGCU won three consecutive A-Sun Regular Season Championships from 2008-10 upon arriving to the ranks of Division I, but were not eligible for postseason play in any of those seasons due to NCAA reclassification rules. This is the first time the Eagles head into postseason play as the No. 1 seed in the A-Sun.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for such a young club," head coach Dave Tollett added. "These guys have overcome a lot and have grown up very quickly. They learned on the fly this season and this accomplishment is the first of many on our list. We can go a long way if we play the way we know how. Now everyone else has to come to us. No question, you couldn't ask for a better opportunity than the one we have next week."
Brady Anderson made the start on the mound in the first game of the doubleheader and tossed a very strong 7 1/3 innings, allowed just six hits and surrendered an earned run. He walked four batters and struck out six en route to earning his fifth victory of the season and lowering his ERA to 2.18, which ranks second in the A-Sun behind teammate Michael Murray.
Zack Tillery came on in the ninth and nailed down his fourth save of the season to clinch a share of the regular season crown at the time.
Jake Noll picked up a pair of hits in each game on Friday to go 4-for-9 overall and extend his team-best hitting streak to 18 games. He also concludes the regular season with 96 hits, just three-shy of the FGCU single-season record of 99. Tillery more or less manufactured his own save opportunity with a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning of game one, his fifth of the season.
In game two, FGCU got on the board first with Jack English on the mound. After leaving the bases loaded in the second, FGCU came to the plate in the third and Noll led off with a double and advanced on a fly out by Bottomley. Michael Suchy hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Noll to score but that was all the Eagles would get in this one. English surrendered the lead in the bottom of the fourth and trailed 2-1 when he left the game in the fourth in favor of lefty Nick Deckert.
The Bisons tacked on runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to account for the 7-1 difference at the end of the game.
For the first time in program history, the Eagles will host to the Atlantic Sun baseball championship at Swanson Stadium. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season advance to the championship in a double-elimination style tournament to determine the A-Sun's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are now four-time A-Sun Regular Season Champions and finished second in the league last season.