BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – No. 15 Birmingham-Southern advanced to the NCAA Division III Super Regional on Sunday afternoon after defeating No. 14 LaGrange 14-6 in the winner-take-all regional series finale at Striplin Field.
With the season on the line in game five of the NCAA Regional, Birmingham-Southern (37-13) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead over LaGrange (32-12), scoring three runs in the second inning and four more runs in the top of the third.
BSC tagged on another run in the sixth to increase the lead to 8-1. But despite the deficit, LaGrange did not resign itself to defeat. LaGrange pulled within two runs of BSC by scoring a run in the seventh and four more runs in the eighth, cutting the BSC lead to 8-6.
However, Birmingham-Southern crushed any hope of a LaGrange comeback in the top of the ninth inning, plating six runs to push the Panther lead to 15-6. Senior John Michael Shirley (Mobile, Ala./UMS-Wright Prep), normally BSC's No. 2 starter, closed out the game for BSC in his first relief appearance, getting a lineout and two strikeouts to clinch the NCAA Birmingham Regional championship.
Sophomore Tristan Harvin (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy) got the start on the mound for BSC. In his third start of the season, Harvin tossed four innings, allowing just one run off five hits. Junior southpaw Hanan Mauldin (Florence, Ala./Florence HS) came in in relief of Harvin and got the win, his fifth of the year, pitching two and one-third innings.
Junior Robbie Lively (Helena, Ala./Southern Union) and sophomore Will Evans (Peachtree City, Ga./Starrs Mill HS) both pitched two-thirds of an inning before Shirley came in to close out the final inning and a third.
Led by senior Tyler Wise (Birmingham, Ala./Spain Park HS) and junior Will Toner (Atlanta, Ga./Marist HS), seven different Panthers had multiple hits. Wise and Toner both led the team with three RBI each while sophomore Brian Williams (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter HS), senior Tyler Hamel (Atlanta, Ga./Alpharetta HS) and sophomore Alfredo Granier (Atlanta, Ga./Holy Innocents' Episcopal) had two RBI each.
With the win, Birmingham-Southern captured its first NCAA Division III regional championship in school history and advanced to its first ever NCAA Super Regional.
The Panthers will face the Coe College Kohawks in the NCAA Super Regional on May 24-26. The site is TBD.