By Rob Todor
The news came like a high fastball at the head.
Cleveland State University on Monday announced its is dropping its baseball program at the conclusion of the season.
John Parry, the athletic director at Cleveland State, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer the main reason for the decision was a lack of facilities for the team, which practice and play in Avon, about 25 miles from the downtown campus.
Parry told The Plain Dealer that the athletic department will save about $450,000.
Rich Pasquale, Youngstown State’s baseball coach, heard about the decision on Monday afternoon.
“It’s a shame. You hate seeing that happen to a university, having to drop a team or a sport,” said Pasquale, who is 72-132 in his fifth season at Youngstown State. “Knowing those coaches and how had they work, and you feel bad for the players.
“You hate to see that happen. It’s just a shame, a shame. Their record [9-32] is somewhat similar to ours, but they have a lot of tradition.”
Pasquale, understandably, can empathize with Cleveland State coach Kevin Kocks.
“We’re in this because we love the game because we want to pass on the game,” Pasquale said. “We want the players to have good college experiences. What these kids are going to have to go through the next couple of months, that’s not a good college experience.”
Youngstown State athletic director Ron Strollo talked with Parry on Monday afternoon.
“Decisions like that don’t come easy,” Strollo said. “The reality is, it affects people.
“When you are talking about any Division I sport, it’s a decision that affects people who have put a lot of time and rescources into it, and their families have devoted a lot of time and resources.”
Pasquale said he’s uncertain what Cleveland State’s decision will do to the Horizon League for 2012.
“We were going to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule [single games each day], which we [league coaches] all voted for,” he said. “Each team receive two bye weekends, but I’m not quite sure how this is all going to work out.”
Cleveland State’s decision will leave six baseball schools in the Horizon League.
Strollo reiterated his support of the Youngstown State program.
“In the 15 years I’ve been associated with Youngstown State athletics, we have never considered dropping the sport,” he said. “The amount we invest and the potential savings aren’t worth the affect [the decision would have] on the students and the community.
“This is a community that is strong behind its baseball. It’s part of the culture of the community. YSU baseball will be here for a long, long time.”