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UB baseball: Other players left to pick up the pieces

A look at some other UB players and how they've been affected by the elimination of the baseball program:

Cashing in on opportunity

Junior pitcher Caleb Jardina-Kish played two innings of baseball at Niagara-Wheatfield High. He hated school, didn't care much for baseball, had no intentions of attending a four-year college and didn't bother to take the SAT.

"I wanted to make money and start my life," Kish said. "I had no desire to continue my education at UB or anywhere else. I couldn't have even gotten into UB because of my grades. I skimmed by with a 70 (average) in high school. I wasn't going to school, and it was no big deal."

Kish's plan called for playing football at a community college, earning his associate's degree and figuring out his path in life. It changed when the father of Matt Clingersmith, the coach at Niagara County Community College, saw Kish throw a baseball. It led him to NCCC, which led him to UB.

He pitched only nine innings out of the bullpen, about what he expected while preparing for his senior year. A year away from his degree in sociology with a minor in criminology and little interest from other programs, he plans to graduate from UB. The same kid who despised school became a B-plus student.

"Am I happy that I came? Yeah, but I could have had a pretty good job even with an associate's degree," he said. "You only need two years to get into law enforcement. I wouldn't be spending two years in college. I would have spent two years devoted to working, wherever that was. I was going to start at UPS and ride the ladder up.

"I'm happy that I came for the education. A bachelor's is better than an associate's degree. But am I upset that the program is gone? Yeah. You make friendships with all these dudes. They're your boys, and they come out of nowhere and cut it right off. It's pretty (lousy). We had no idea. It was a 10-minute meeting, and that was it."

Off to Bona

Freshman infielder Jeff Palczewski committed to UB partly because tuition was covered. The former Orchard Park High star accepted a smaller role in his first year with the idea he would earn playing time. He didn't know more playing time would be somewhere else.

Palczewski called former OP teammates Dave "Bubba" Hollins and Ryan McCarrick at St. Bonaventure. They informed coach Larry Sudbrook, who called Palczewski a few hours later. The second baseman visited the campus and accepted a partial scholarship. He be paying about $22,000 next season to continue his career.

"It was like being back in high school again, but this time you have to find coaches," Palczewski said. "At other times, coaches were coming to you. I got lucky enough that a coach had money left over and a spot on the team for me. I got really lucky."

A dead end

Junior Phil Tomasulo cross-crossed a few times zones for an opportunity to play Division I baseball. He grew up in Florida, played junior college ball in Nebraska and landed in Buffalo after sending video showing his skill to the coaching staff. Baseball was his only connection to the region, and now it's gone.

"I was annoyed because I really wanted to be here at the D-I level, playing against the best competition in the country," he said. "It was a little bit frustrating. I've been here for one year. I'm sure some of these guys that have been year for three or four years are hurt more than me. But I'm still hurt.

Around the horn

* Don Kilian played two seasons before shoulder surgery wiped out his junior year. The former St. Joe's star's career is over. He'll earn a degree in communications. "All I ever wanted was to play for my hometown team," he said in an email. "Being a native from Buffalo this decision to cut the team really hits home for me."

* Freshman infielder Mike O'Connor played high school ball at North Tonawanda and chose UB because it offered academics and athletics at the right price. He never stepped on the field and is now leaving the school. He never played an inning at UB and was planning to restart his career at Niagara County Community College.

* Matt Lowery arrived from Frisco, Texas, in part because UB gave him an opportunity to walk-on and play near family in Western New York. Now, his future is uncertain. "Came all the way from Texas to play in front of my relatives," he said. "They have never seen me play baseball before and now probably never will."

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