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Clegg, Gulczynski staying together at Northern Kentucky

STICKING TOGETHER — Toronto’s A.J. Clegg, left, and Lucas Gulzynski signed their letters of intent Wednesday to continue their academic and baseball careers at Norther Kentucky University With AJ, seated, are parents Aaron and Korey Clegg. Back, from left, are Toronto head baseball coach Brian Perkins, Principal Betsy Jones, Athletic Director Chelsea Fletcher and assistant coach Richie Crowe. With Lucas, seated, from left, are brother Zach Gulczynski, father Peter Gulczynski, mother Tracy Gulczynski and sister Katie Gulczynski. Back, from left, are Brian Perkins, Jones and Fletcher. -Andrew Grimm

TORONTO — Two of Toronto’s state champions will continue to play together beyond their days in red and white, as A.J. Clegg and Lucas Gulczynski signed their letters of intent to play baseball for Division I Northern Kentucky University Wednesday morning.

“It’s going to be fun. He has always been my best friend growing up. We have always played baseball together,” Gulczsynski said. “It definitely helped to sign together. Going to college alone can be tough, so knowing someone is definitely an advantage.

“We played summer ball together, and now we get to go to college together.”

“We grew up together and work hard every day together,” Clegg said. “We are always pushing each other. It was never out of the question that we end up somewhere together. We don’t stop, we got after each other every day on the field.

“It’s a great bond to keep. It was important to stick together because we have had each other’s backs, and we will continue to.”

The duo sticking together is no surprise to their head coach.

“These guys are tight,” Brian Perkins said. “That is what makes us successful. I know they are looking forward to going to Northern Kentucky. What a great program coach Todd Asalon has. I know they will represent Toronto well.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids and their families. They both come from great family backgrounds. They are both hard-working kids, and that says a lot about their parents. I know they will both be successful at the next level.”

The Norse, who compete in the Horizon League, went 15-40 a season ago and went 12-17 in league play to finish fourth.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I loved it,” Clegg said. “The coaching staff was great. When I went on my visit, they welcomed me in. It just looked like somewhere I would fit in.”

Gulczynski was a first-team All-Ohio, All-East District, All-EOAC and All-OVAC selection last season. He hit .408 with 12 doubles and 26 stolen bases.

Clegg was named to the all-state tournament team and was a first-team All-East District and All-EOAC pick. He went 8-0 with a 1.28 ERA and 61 strikeouts.

The duo make five Red Knights to commit to Division I programs in the last three years, with Blaze Glenn at Youngstown State and Nolan Clegg (A.J.’s older brother) and Nate Karaffa at Ohio State.

“It’s very exciting. Growing up, I didn’t get a lot of help getting to the college level, so I always told myself I would work my butt off for my kids,” Perkins said. “These guys work hard, and they make that process easy. We come from a town that has 50 kids in a graduating class, and to have five Division I players come out since 2016, it’s a testament to their hard work.

“I’ve been saying for years there is a ton of talent in the Ohio Valley, and the college coaches are finally noticing.”

“I have to thank the guys before me like Nate, Nolan, Sante (Carducci) and Blaze,” Gulczynski said. “They put Toronto out there and helped me a lot in my recruiting process. It’s an honor to put the Valley out there and see all the kids signing. It gets more looks for the kids coming up, too.”

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