Birmingham-Southern's season ends on UW-Whitewater walk-off homer at DIII College World Series

Sam Paden sent the Panthers home in the bottom of the ninth

The storybook season is over for the Birmingham-Southern College baseball team. Now, the program is finished as well.

Sam Paden hit a home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Wisconsin-Whitewater an 11-10 win in an elimination game at the Division III College World Series in Eastlake, Ohio. The Warhawks will play Salve Regina on Monday for a chance to go to the tournament semifinals.

UW-Whitewater previously won the Division III championship in 2005 and 2014.

Birmingham-Southern drew national attention when the baseball team advanced to the DIII World Series, outlasting the life of its actual institution. The private liberal arts college in Birmingham, Alabama with an enrollment of 1,300 students closed due to financial difficulties after 168 years of existence. The school shut its doors on May 31, the same day that the Panthers opened tournament play.

UW-Whitewater opened the scoring in the second inning with its outfielders battering Panthers starting pitcher Carter Tyus. Paden and Dominik McVay hit back-to-back home runs, each working 3–1 counts before going deep. The Warhawks added another run on an RBI single from Matt Scolan to build a 3–0 lead.

McVay followed up with an excellent catch in the third, diving onto the warning track in left center field to rob Ty Truett of a leadoff extra-base hit. However, Birmingham-Southern came right back with a two-run shot by Eli Steadman to make it a 3–2 ballgame.

In the fourth, Jackson Webster led off with a home run to tie the score. That was the beginning of BSC jumping on Hagen with a double from Ian Hancock, a Charlie Banks triple and a Jakob Zito single that resulted in two more runs and a 5–3 lead.

Yet the Warhawks punched right back, tying the score on a two-run homer by Scolan. And what turned into a slugfest in an elimination game was on.

Birmingham-Southern exploded for four runs in the fifth inning, started by a catcher's interference call, three consecutive hits and a hit-by-pitch. That chased reliever Cade Hansen, but Max Huseboe came in to allow an RBI single by Zito.

The Panthers tacked on another run in the sixth for a 10–5 lead, but UW-Whitewater scored runs in the seventh and eighth — both fueled by hits from Scolan — to chip away at the deficit.

That set up first baseman Eli Frank to launch a two-run homer off Hansen McCown to tie the score at 10–10 in the eighth. The Warhawks threatened to take the lead, following up with two straight singles. Andy Thies hit a deep drive to left center, but Steadman caught it at the warning track to end the inning.

Birmingham-Southern lost Friday's opener to Salve Regina, putting them at risk of elimination with another loss. However, the Panthers defeated Randolph-Macon in a thrilling comeback, walk-off win on Saturday to stay alive in the tournament. The win provided another opportunity to advance for a rematch with Salve Regina, but that won't happen now.

A compelling story reaches its end

Birmingham-Southern College, founded in 1856, fought for the past two years to restore its endowment. Unfortunately, legislation for a $30 million loan that would've kept the school open did not pass in the Alabama State House. In March, the college decided to close.

Since head coach Jan Weisberg informed his players that the school would close, the Panthers went 19–6. Several of the athletes have found new programs where they can play baseball, while Weisberg and his staff are working to help others make such arrangements. Some have decided to walk away from baseball once the season ended. And 10 players on the team have graduated.

"At the start, there was a lot of sadness," Cole Steadman, a member of the 2019 team that played for the Division III title, told the Associated Press. "We were pretty devastated to hear that the school was shutting down, but to see the community come together has been special."