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Birmingham-Southern’s baseball team flooded with funds for World Series trip as school sets to close

CLEVELAND (AP) — The baseball team soon to be without a school has a growing fan base.

Birmingham-Southern’s inspiring, unexpected journey has won over some hearts.

The Panthers, who have kept their season alive as their school is on the brink of shutting down for good on Friday, have captured interest with supporters raising over $100,000 to enhance their trip to the Division III World Series.

By Tuesday afternoon, a GoFundMe page had exceeded its initial $100,000 goal and is still climbing.

Trey Hines, the sports information director for the school from Birmingham, Alabama, for at least a few more days, said the support has been overwhelming.

“It’s been crazy,” Hines said by phone.

Hines said before leaving for Cleveland on Wednesday the team is having a send-off party and being honored before the first pitch of Tuesday night’s Birmingham Barons game.

Birmingham-Southern advanced to the World Series in Eastlake, Ohio, on Saturday despite the team being flattened by food poisoning with two players being hospitalized and others receiving fluid intravenously behind the dugout during their win over Denison.

The NCAA is paying their travel expenses to get to Ohio and home, but the added money can go toward other expenses like rings to honor the Panthers making it out of the Super Regional. They beat Denison 10–1 on Friday and then rallied to win 7–6 on Saturday despite the widespread illness.

On Friday, Birmingham-Southern will play on the same day that the private liberal arts college, founded in 1856, closes due to financial problems. Unable to secure a $30 million loan, school officials voted in March to shut down.

The Panthers have been swinging since – going 18-4 since the decision — and if they keep winning, they’ll be the only thing keeping Birmingham-Southern in existence.

They’ll open the double-elimination tournament – hosted by the Lake County Captains, one of the Cleveland Guardians’ minor league affiliates – against No. 2 seed Salve Regina (Rhode Island) on Friday.

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