The next chapter: UB pitcher Charlie Sobieraski looks to continue playing despite recent cuts
Junior pitcher Charlie Sobieraski was left scrambling to figure out where he would play next season after the announcement that the baseball program would be cut at the end of the year.
Without a team, Sobieraski was forced into the recruitment process for a second time hours after he found out he no longer had a place at UB.
“It got out pretty quick through social media,” Sobieraski said. “Some coaches were calling our coaches and stuff like that. Probably within that day and the next day is when the calls started coming in.”
The cuts came late in the academic year, when rosters and recruiting classes of many teams were already full. Most, if not all, of athletic scholarship money allotted to incoming players was used.
At first, Sobieraski committed to Purdue to play his last season of collegiate baseball. However, the University of Pittsburgh offered him scholarship money and presented him with the financial benefits he was seeking.
Sobieraski is from Lockport and the closeness of Pittsburgh played a substantial role in his decision to decommit from Purdue.
Pittsburgh has turf complexes, which helps to increase the amount of times its team can get outside while there are still winter-like conditions. A vital part of the indoor facilities at Pittsburgh is a dirt mound that pitchers can throw on year-round.
“You can tell they just care about every single aspect of their university,” Sobieraski said.
At UB, pitchers were mostly throwing on a turf mound until their first game of the season. But what stood out most to Sobieraski was the fact that they had a state of the art weight room, training room and locker room.
Despite finding a good baseball program close to home, the recruiting process was even more difficult the second time around for Sobieraski.
“It was stressful,” he said. “I know like from the academic side, a lot of schools don’t let kids come in after they’ve already completed six semesters just because, it’s kind of like cheating the system going to a school for three years and then going to a school for one to get a degree from that school.”
Sobieraski will miss his teammates at UB.
“It’ll be kind of tough, you know, going into a new situation not really knowing anyone and being the new guy for one year when you know you have all these relationships with guys like [sophomore outfielder Brian Wasilewski] that you’ve been playing with ever since high school,” Sobieraski said.
Sobieraski has chemistry with other local UB players, like senior Brian Dudek, junior shortstop Ben Haefner, and senior third baseman Chris Kwitzer, who all played Section-VI high school baseball. Playing against them in high school helped Sobieraski establish some familiarity when he came to UB.
Even though Sobieraski will be sad to leave his teammates, he will not miss Amherst Audubon Field, the home park for the Bulls or the long bus rides that come at the beginning of the year, due to always playing on the road.
Pittsburgh has charter flights for any location that would be longer than a five-hour drive.
Despite his impressive pitching skills that led to his move to Pittsburgh, his collegiate career started as a third-baseman. It wasn’t until the middle of the 2015 season that the coaching staff realized he had the qualities to be a starting pitcher.
“It was in practice one day, we were taking infield and we were watching him throw across the diamond from third base and you’re like ‘holy cow his arm really works well’ and the ball just jumps out of his hand,” said head coach Ron Torgalski. “He was 90, 91 velocity-wise and we said we would be fools not to try and use him with an arm like that.”
Sobieraski has a fresh arm compared to players who have been pitching their entire baseball career due to just picking up the position. With the recent epidemic of arm injuries in baseball, it is enticing for professional teams to see someone with pro potential without the wear and tear most pitchers have.
His quick transition from a third baseman designed to hit in the middle of the lineup, to No. 2 pitcher has gathered interest from professional scouts.
Twenty-eight of the 30 Major League Baseball teams have already been in contact with him, by either email or phone.
“He’s a guy that has the makeup to be a pro and to continue to go as high as he can. That’s a guy that a few years down the line, could be a big league pitcher,” Torgalski said. “The fact that he’s only been pitching a couple years I think makes a huge difference compared to a guy that’s been pitching his whole career.”
He is ready to make the jump from Mid-American Conference baseball, to the highly touted Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It’s going to be a big transition,” Sobieraski said. “But you know with what they got over there at Pittsburgh, and with the culture they’re building and the coaching staff and stuff like that I think that it will be a good transition, it’s definitely going to be a challenge and it’s a challenge I want to accept and see where it takes me.”
Justin Bystrak is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org