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Birmingham-Southern catches up late but loses DIII College World Series opening game to Salve Regina

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The Birmingham-Southern College baseball team began playing in the Division III College World Series on Friday after the school closed after 168 years. The Panthers continued their season under such unusual circumstances, turning it into a national curiosity during Friday's game against Salve Regina at Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio.

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

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

Right-hander Drake LaRoche (son of 12-year-old Major League player Adam LaRoche) allowed all seven runs on seven hits in five innings for Birmingham-Southern.

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

In the eighth inning, BSC loaded the bases with a single and two walks, but Salve Regina's closer Kyle Carroza brought Dutton to second base with a groundout, ending the threat.

The Panthers had one last chance in the ninth inning and scored the winning run with a walk by Jackson Webster and a single by Hancock. However, Carroza again prevented runs by striking out Banks, Jakob Zito and Ty Truett to secure the win.

Brayden Clark earned the win for the Seahawks by allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. Carroza made the save.

The Panthers' season is not over yet, and perhaps the opening game loss to Salve Regina will add more drama to the overall story. But if BSC loses again on Saturday to the loser of Friday night's game between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Randolph-Macon, the team will be eliminated.