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Krauza, cut from Franklin Regional baseball team, works his way onto St. Bonaventure roster

Paul Schofield
| Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 7:39 p.m.
Murrysville's Michael Krauza leaps past Kiski Valley catcher Frankie Stefko to score on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning Sunday, July 11, 2016 at Laube Field in Freeport during American Legion playoff action.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Murrysville's Michael Krauza leaps past Kiski Valley catcher Frankie Stefko to score on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning Sunday, July 11, 2016 at Laube Field in Freeport during American Legion playoff action.

When Michael Krauza graduated from Franklin Regional in 2015, his plans did not include playing baseball in college.

Krauza was going to pursue a business and financial degree at Xavier. But things have changed for the Murrysville native.

He's leaving Xavier after two years because he was offered a chance to earn a baseball scholarship at St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10.

Even though Krauza was cut from his high school baseball team twice, he still had that burning desire to play a sport he loved.

“I didn't think I was good enough, and I almost quit to join the golf team,” Krauza said. “Franklin Regional has a good program. I made the varsity team my senior year, but I saw limited action.”

Murrysville American Legion baseball coach Gus Bondi wouldn't allow Krauza to step away from the game and told him he was too talented to give up. He convinced him to play for him in the summer.

The team went undefeated, and Krauza was a key to the team's success.

“Michael is a stud,” Bondi said. “I have no idea why he wasn't getting playing time on the high school team. He did everything and played anywhere I wanted, no questions asked. He was a joy to coach.”

Krauza enrolled at Xavier, which is in Cincinnati, and played on the school's club team. He didn't like it because it was too laid back, and that's not how he likes to play.

“I'm aggressive, and I take the game seriously,” Krauza said. “I want to win, and sometimes I get too emotional and it gets me in trouble.

“I was devastated when I got cut. But Gus had faith in me. I'm glad I listened to him.”

Krauza said he also talked to his friend Matt Frey (who attends Davidson) and his father, Jim, and they coached him through the process of looking at colleges.

So he sent emails to schools, trying to find out what it took to play for a Division I program.

St. Bonaventure coach Larry Sudbrook answered Krauza's call.

“There was a time when we'd get eight or 10 letters a week from kids,” Sudbrook said. “Now, with technology, we get 12 to 15 emails a day. Michael told us his name and that he was a right-handed pitcher who threw in the low 80s, and we told him that we typically look for players that throw in the upper 80s.

“He thanked us, and, quite frankly, we never expected to hear from him again. About a year later he sends up another email with a video attached. It was him throwing with a radar gun showing he was consistently throwing 88 miles per hour. I told him we'll talk now.”

Krauza signed a letter of intent in June to attend St. Bonaventure. He has a place on the 35-man roster and a chance to earn scholarship money in the fall and spring. Because he didn't play collegiate baseball at Xavier, he'll have three years to play for the Bonnies per NCAA regulations.

After first emailing Sudbrook, Krauza spent a year following a program called Driveline baseball, which helped him increase his throwing speed.

His work in the weight room has him dead lifting 448 pounds, and he has improved his bench press. He has spent the past month in Boston at the Eric Cressey Sports Performance facility, a place Sudbrook said college pitchers and pro prospects go to hone their abilities.

“I hit 90 this week,” Krauza said. “Getting cut from the baseball team was probably the best thing for me. It made me work harder, and I kind of carry a chip on my shoulder.

“I always wanted to play college baseball, but I wasn't sure I was ready to play. I needed to work.”

Sudbrook said Krauza and his parents visited the university and said they couldn't have been more impressed.

“When we sat down and started to talk, Michael had a set of questions he had prepared to ask me. Instead of me interviewing him, he interviewed us. He was looking for the right fit. We'd be foolish not to give him a chance.”

Krauza, who maintained a 4.0 GPA at Xavier, selected St. Bonaventure over Davidson.

“I wanted to play for a coach who was real, like Coach Bondi,” Krauza said. “And I wanted to play at a place where I had a shot to compete for a roster spot.”

St. Bonaventure is affording him that chance.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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