As Birmingham-Southern shuts down, its baseball team advances to DIII College World Series

USATSI 20913987

Their school might be shutting down, but their College World Series hopes live on.

The Birmingham-Southern College Panthers baseball team — which represents the 1,300-student college in Birmingham, Ala., that’s slated to soon close — advanced to the Division III College World Series with a 7-6 win over Denison University on Saturday.

The Panthers’ Jakob Zito tripled to right center field in the first inning for two runs after Ian Hancock drove in a run on an RBI single to take an early 3-0 lead. The Panthers scored twice in the fifth inning, and twice more in the ninth. Denison scored two runs in the ninth with a chance to win, but lefty closer Charlie Horne sealed the game with a final out to clinch the Super Regional title.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating a super regional win and punching a ticket to the World Series,” Birmingham-Southern College athletic director Kyndall Waters said in a statement.

Waters said that nine of the players battled severe food poisoning, and two of the players were hospitalized during Saturday’s game.

“I’m so incredibly proud of our team and our coaching staff who have had all the right words to lift up the student athletes as they have faced adversity after adversity,” Waters said. “We cannot overstate our appreciation for the community that has supported us along the way and our new-found community, the entire country, for joining us on this final historic journey.”

The team next plays in East Lake, Ohio, in the best-of-three final series beginning on May 31, the same day their school is slated to shut down after a nearly two-year battle to replenish its depleted endowment to stay afloat.

In October, the Alabama state treasurer declined a $30 million loan, and the school officially voted in late March to close.

The school’s fate is another blow to small liberal arts institutions, with many closing, merging or scaling back to cut costs. According to Waters, schools such as Birmingham-Southern have faced an uphill battle since the 2007 recession as enrollment in liberal arts schools and fundraising have steadily declined while operating costs have increased, issues that have accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, 279 individual, unique campuses in the private nonprofit sector have closed since 2018, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Twenty-three university systems have closed since 2018, or about five small liberal arts college closings per year, and that soon will include Birmingham-Southern.

Required reading

(Photo: Dylan Widger / USA Today)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top