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BSC athletics holds sendoff party as Panthers go to College World Series

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From the tzatziki to the thumping beats emanating from the DJ booth, it was clear Tuesday was a time for celebration at Tasty Town.

Dozens of Birmingham-Southern College students, alumni and supporters were at the Greek restaurant near Railroad Park to toast the school’s baseball team before the Panthers head to Eastlake, Ohio for the Division III College World Series on Friday.

The Panthers’ first game of the tournament coincides with the date the beleaguered private college closes after more than 160 years.

“I met my wife at Birmingham-Southern, all my best friends from Birmingham-Southern are still my best friends today,” said Michael Hemphill, a 1993 BSC graduate from Virginia. “I only applied to once school in 1989, and that was Birmingham-Southern College. It was the only place I ever wanted to go to. It’s a special place, and unfortunately it’s Alabama’s loss that it’s going away.

“But the story about the Birmingham-Southern baseball team is inspiring,” said Hemphill, who happened to be in Birmingham to start production on new episodes of his PBS show “Buzz” as the Panthers begin their quest for a championship.

“We came here to support and reconnect one more time with the Panthers,” he said of he and his wife stopping by Tasty Town, where players signed autographs as supporters sipped wine and dined on the restaurant’s offerings.

Charlie Banks, a freshman outfielder from Georgia, said he was impressed by the show of support.

“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t expect this today. I thought it would just be like a couple of people and the team,” he said.

Jennifer Sloan Dill, a 1992 graduate who helped support the team her senior year as a diamond girl, was at Tasty Town with her husband, Randy, a 1989 alumnus.

“It’s nice to end on a good note, something positive,” she said.

“It’s a very special place, hoping that the people keep the connections going,” she added.

Banks said his focus is on the team’s immediate goal and has yet to ponder his postseason future.

“I haven’t really thought much into it,” he said. “I’ve been focused on what we’re doing right now, and then I’ll look at it after.”

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