Power reinvigorated after offseason reshuffling

The Niagara Power open their 2022 season with a familiar look but plenty of new behind the scenes.

Michael Gentile has taken over day-to-day operations from Patrick Tutka, who stepped down after running the organization since Niagara University purchased and rebooted it ahead of the summer of 2018. Both are associate professors in NU's College of Hospitality, Sports and Tourism Management, and the franchise will continue to operate as a learning tool for Niagara students.

Brandon Shileikis will manage this summer, taking over for Syracuse Triple-A Hall of Famer Stu Pederson, who led the Power to a 19-26 recored last season.

Shileikis was once a Niagara University foe, fifth all-time in innings pitched at Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rival Quinnipiac. He was an assistant coach with the Pittsfield Suns of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League since 2018, and in 2020 joined Division III Rogers Williams University in the same role.

Assisting him is Tim Gelzinis, who played D-3 at Elms College in Massachusetts. He started his coaching career in 2019 at the youth level with Baysox Baseball and was named associate head coach at Massasoit Community College last year. 

James Fort, the former Niagara University player and pitching coach who operates WNY Strike Zone in Niagara Falls, helped the two fill out a roster, taking over for Jeff Ziemecki, the president of baseball operations for Thunderwolves Baseball, a local travel program, and a volunteer coach at Niagara County Community College.

The roster they put together has a mix of local talent and imports, highlighted by a trio from Kansas State — sophomore outfielder Cam Uselton and freshmen-to-be Cadyn Karl (OF) and Jayden Libliner (catcher).

Orchard Park native Ryan Peterson, a sophomore pitcher at George Mason, and freshman infielder Andrew Fairbrother (Williamsville) represent NCCC, while freshman OF Greg Hare (Warsaw) comes from rival Erie CC.

Nick DiCarlo, a Lewiston-Porter product who just wrapped up his freshman season at Iona, will join the outfield, along with Ontario's David Coleman, a sophomore at High Point; Virginia's Lucas Carmichael, a freshman at William & Mary; and New Hampshire high schooler River Hart, who will play in fall at Southern New Hampshire.

Michael Huff II, the current Niagara Wheatfield senior signed to Western Michigan, will battle Libliner and Bucknell sophomore Ben Sinins for time behind the plate.

The pitching staff includes A.J. Kinney, a Niagara Falls product a junior at Fredonia, as well as Lancaster senior Billy Morris (D'Youville), Canisius College sophomore Bryan Aduddle (Amherst) and York College freshman Nick Lowe (Silver Creek). Also on the staff are Massachusetts' Logan Burrill, a senior at Northern Essex CC; New Jersey's Brenden Muhs, a freshman at Keene State; and New Hampshire's Andrew Hulfachor, a freshman at Clark University.

Local HS seniors Blaise Kolbert (Lancaster) and Michael Stellrecht (Williamsville East) join a crowded infield that includes Lakeview native Alex Dzimian, a freshman at D'Youville, and Chili senior and Northern Kentucky commit Christian Montanez. Georgia's Payton Eeles, a senior at Cedarville University; Zach Scott, a high school senior from Massachusetts; Julian Uejima, a New Jersey sophomore playing at Quinnipiac; and Heath Cochburn, a freshman out of Freeport High School in Maine round out the group.

The Power will once again compete in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which as gained a franchise and is 16 strong this summer. Niagara is in the West Division along with the Auburn DoubleDays, Utica Blue Sox, Batavia Muckdogs, Geneva Red Wings, Jamestown Tarp Skunks, Newark Pilots and Elmira Pioneers.

Jamestown visits Sal Maglie Stadium at 5:30 p.m. today for the season opener. Niagara then plays Saturday at Newark before returning home Sunday and Monday.