Alex Vergara hit three home runs to lead the top-seeded Bisons (36-24), who scored in each of the first five innings, to the Atlantic Sun Tournament championship Sunday with a 12-6 win over No. 2 seed Florida Gulf Coast (42-18) at Melching Field at Conrad Park in DeLand, Florida.
Lipscomb which moved to NCAA Division I in 2001, is in the NCAA Tournament for the third time. The Bisons advanced to NCAA regional appearances in 2008 and 2015.
There has been speculation that Lipscomb will be placed in the Vanderbilt regional if the Commodores are selected to host.
Lipscomb had to battle back after losing to Liberty (12-11) on Tuesday and FGCU (6-5) on Thursday in the pool format. Beating Jacksonville 4-3 on Friday extended the season to earn a semifinal berth. The Bisons then won 7-3 against Liberty on Saturday to make it to the championship game.
"We lost the first two games in the tournament, and we came back," said Jeff Foreheand, who was named the ASun Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year. "The resiliency of these (players); I’m just overwhelmed. Dave Tollett (FGCU coach) does an awesome job. We’ve been best buddies for a long time and I know how good he is and what that team’s about."
Vergara, a junior from Colleyville, Texas, and transfer from Weatherford College, was named the tournament MVP. He tied the tournament record for home runs in a single game, which has stood since 1990. Vergara now has 21 home runs on the season, which is tied for the team lead with Austin Kelly.
Sophomore Mason Lundgrin hit a solo home run in the first inning and Caleb Ketchup added a 2-run shot in the second to give Lipscomb a record 105 home runs on the season.
The Bisons had back-to-back homers with Vergara's first home run coming after Ketchup's. It put Lipscomb up 5-0.
Vergara's next homer came in the fourth inning and gave Lipscomb an 8-2 lead and his third, a three-run shot, came in the fifth to put the Bisons up 12-3 advantage.
FGCU threated to start a rally in the eighth inning by getting two runners on base with no outs. Ethan Smith, a Mt. Juliet native and transfer who played at Vanderbilt and Tennessee, entered from the bullpen and retired the first three batters he faced and the next three in the ninth.
Lipscomb got 12 hits in the first five innings and finished with 16 in eight innings.
"Our message was the same as before, just have good at-bats because that’s a good offensive team over there," Forehand said. "I don't like to think what would have happened if we didn’t put up (16) because they could really hit."
FGCU had 10 hits.
The Bisons had the chance to end the game in the seventh inning on the run rule after loading the bases with Mason Lundgrin up with two outs. Lundgrin struck out.
Pitcher Michael Dunkelberger (3-6) got the win for Lipscomb while FGCU's Nick Love (5-3) picked up the loss.
Joining Vergara on the all-tournament team for Lipscomb was Ketchup, Kelly, Lundgrin and Trace Wilhoit.
Lipscomb won every single conference series on their schedule during the regular season for the first time in program history and won the most conference games in their 20th season in the league.
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Lipscomb baseball headed to NCAA Tournament after winning ASun Tourney