After forcing No. 4 Lipscomb into an elimination game courtesy of a 10-5 win Saturday afternoon, the top-seeded FGCU Eagles were eliminated by an 11-4 decision Saturday night in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship at Swanson Stadium.
Lipscomb a(33-27) dvances to the championship final against No. 3 seed Kennesaw State at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Bisons will need to defeat the Owls, who are 3-0 in tournament action, twice to earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. If Lipscomb wins the first game, the two teams square off again 30 minutes later.
The Eagles (39-22) conclude the regular season with 39 wins the most in a single season in FGCU's Division-I history (2008). The all-time program record for victories in a year is 41 in 2006. Though unlikely, the Eagles will await its potential postseason fate as the NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs at Noon Monday on ESPNU.
In the second game against Lipscomb, freshman Jake Noll set the FGCU single-season hit record with his 100th in the first inning. Noll drove a triple into right field to surpass Mikel Alvarez's 2010 mark of 99 hits.Other notable single-season records are Noll's 25 stolen bases and Mike Murray's 13 wins on the mound.
Lipscomb and FGCU were squaring off for the second and third times, respectively, in the tournament Saturday. The Eagles opened their tournament with a win over No. 8 UNF Wednesday night before losing to Lipscomb on Thursday. A win over Jacksonville Friday put the Eagles back into a matchup with the Bisons, and the Eagles knew they needed to win twice to get into the championship final.
"I told them all after the game that out of all the championships I've won at any level during my career, this one is the most special," said Eagles coach Dave Tollett. "We were not expected to do the things that we did this season. No one thought after losing seven guys to the draft that this team could go as far as it did and win a conference championship. They were a very unique bunch. They improved more than any team I've ever had. I'm extremely proud of every single one of them and a loss here today can't take away all that they accomplished as a group."
Nick Deckert took the ball in game one Saturday and given the situation combined with the lefty's recent struggles, put forth arguably the most impressive effort of his season. Deckert threw 140 pitches en route to his seventh victory and had more than enough support at the plate from his corner-infielders. Zack Tillery lifted a grand slam in the second inning for his seventh long ball of the season which eventually served as the game-winning hit.
Nick Rivera of Cape Coral was the MVP of the tournament for FGCU at the plate. He closes his 2014 Championship having gone 10-for-18 at the plate for a .556 average, one home run, three doubles, seven runs scored and seven RBI.?