Birmingham-Southern rallies late, but loses DIII College World Series opener to Salve Regina

The Birmingham-Southern College baseball team began play in the Division III College World Series on Friday as the school itself closed after 168 years of existence. The Panthers continuing their season under such unusual circumstances have made them a national curiosity going into Friday’s matchup against Salve Regina at Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio.

Unfortunately, Birmingham-Southern hit a setback on its way to a storybook ending, losing their first game of the double-elimination tournament to the Seahawks, 7–5.

Salve Regina catcher Brady Smolinski hit a three-run home run in the third inning to open the scoring. The Seahawks added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Matt D’Amato, an RBI grounder by shortstop Michael Breen in the fourth, and a two-run homer from first baseman Tyler Cannoe in the fifth to build the lead to 7–0.

Right-hander Drake LaRoche (son of 12-year major leaguer Adam LaRoche) gave up all seven runs on seven hits for Birmingham-Southern in five innings.

BSC finally got on the board in the sixth inning on an RBI single by right fielder Charlie Banks to make the score 7–1. And in the seventh, the Panthers mounted a three-run rally against reliever Jason Arrigo on RBI hits from center fielder Eli Steadman, second baseman Andrew Dutton and DH Ian Hancock.

In the eighth, BSC loaded the bases on a single and two walks. But Salve Regina closer Kyle Carroza got Dutton to ground out to second base to end the threat.

The Panthers had one last chance in the ninth, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate after a Jackson Webster walk and Hancock single. However, Carroza again avoided allowing runs by striking out Banks, Jakob Zito and Ty Truett to close out the win.

Brayden Clark earned the win for the Seahawks, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings. Carroza notched the save.

The Panthers’ season isn’t over yet and maybe losing the opener to Salve Regina will add more drama to the overall story. But if BSC loses again on Saturday, the Panthers will be eliminated.

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