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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bryce to Meet You

Most students probably can't spell Saskatchewan, let alone find the province on a map, but luckily for the baseball team, Eric Bryce was able to find his way over the border and into a Bulls uniform.

Bryce grew up in Canada, more specifically in the city of Regina. From early childhood he was destined to play baseball.

"Eric was a natural baller from day one," said Pat Bryce, Eric's father. "When he was three years old, I saw him line up a ball and hit it. He had a natural swing and a pretty good throw. He also played basketball, a lot of hockey, and football, which helped with his physical development, but baseball is just where he fit in naturally."

Being a natural has helped Bryce in his transition from pitcher to hitter. With only his senior season left, Bryce went to head coach Ron Torgalski hoping to try a move to the plate.

"[Bryce] has made huge progress," Torgalski said. "A year ago, he was pitching. We talked about it this summer and he wanted to try hitting, and has come a long way. For a guy that has never faced this level of pitching, to be doing what he is doing right now is unbelievable."

In 15 games this season as a designated hitter, Bryce is batting .267, is second on the team with six home runs, and leads Buffalo with a .733 slugging percentage.

Bryce started out the season on a tear, and for his efforts was named one of Louisville Slugger's National Players of the Week in late March. He also received Mid-American Conference East player of the week honors earlier this season.

Bryce explained that it took a great deal of hard work and dedication to make the transition.

"I had to work hard," Bryce said. "I took extra hitting in the cage. I came in with very little proper mechanics and [assistant coach] Jim Koerner helped me out quite a bit."

Bryce made a name for himself as a baseball player in his hometown. He earned the Golden Glove award in the Canadian Championships as a youngster and experienced the glamour of the Little League World Series, which his father claims was the biggest turning point in his son's life and career.

Bryce appreciates his time in Williamsport at the Little League World Series and the memories he made.

"That whole experience was just surreal," Bryce said. "Being down there we got treated like kings, where the only thing you had to worry about was baseball. [As a student athlete] sometimes you have school hanging over your head, but you have to battle one pitch at a time and focus on what's ahead of you."

Bryce is thankful for the strong relationship he has with his parents. He admires both of them for their continued support, even if it's from 2,000 miles away.

"My dad was a boxer and [now is] a farmer," Bryce said. "He chose to stay at home with his family and work on the farm instead of pursuing his career. I admire my mom because she works hard, and puts up with my dad, and me and my younger brother."

One thing about being a student athlete that Bryce, a geology major, acknowledges is the demanding time commitment. Yet, when deciding on UB, he and his family were confident in the program. Bryce has demonstrated the utmost discipline and diligence on the field and at the desk.

When his tenure at UB comes to an end, Bryce is considering going into mining with his degree in geology but plans to play baseball for as long as possible. Back home in Saskatchewan, his parents are proud of what their son has accomplished.




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