Baseball: Warren ace Jasnoch is no sideshow
The future sidearm pitcher once had a side job, because a coach will always find a way for his kid to help contribute to the team.
Before he became the unexpected ace of Warren's baseball team that unexpectedly emerged in April as the best in the North Suburban Conference, junior Dru Jasnoch figured to make his mark in high school in another sport. His dad, after all, is Jon Jasnoch, Warren's head boys basketball coach for the last four years and a longtime assistant before that.
"We like to sit together and watch film," Jasnoch said of he and his dad, as his baseball teammates hit in Warren's field house. "Since I was little, I used to be in this field house and help manage the (basketball) team, (operate) the scoreboard. Sometimes I'd film games for him while he took notes and scouted teams."
Jasnoch gave up basketball after his sophomore season to focus on baseball. The transition didn't necessarily seem like it would be a slam dunk. Consider that Jasnoch, a skinny right-hander, didn't throw the baseball hard.
But then his mother, Debbie, pointed him in the direction of old friend and longtime Carmel Catholic baseball coach Bill Taylor. (Coaches' wives sometimes think like coaches too). Taylor has mentored many sidearm-throwing pitchers in his many years at Carmel.
"I really like being on the mound, and I knew I didn't have the velocity to keep going over the top," Jasnoch said. "I messed around with (throwing sidearm) that summer (before sophomore year). It didn't really take, at first."
He kept with it. Throwing sidearm, Jasnoch had what he considered a good season on the sophomore team. Heading into this season, however, Warren's varsity coaches had little clue about Dru.
But then, Jasnoch is a coach's kid. Never mind we're talking two different sports. His dad had taught him preparation, how to find an edge on his competition.
"He studies the game. He knows every aspect of the game," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "The guy is 100 percent in all the time. He's a student of the game."
Jasnoch barely touches 70 mph on the radar gun, but that hasn't stopped him from frustrating hitters. Through Friday, the 6-foot, 155-pounder was 5-1 with 1 save and a 1.71 ERA in 45 innings with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks. His wins are over Grayslake North, Glenbrook North, Libertyville, Lake Forest and Lake Zurich. His emergence helps explain how the Blue Devils, with no Division-I commits, are 21-2 and 9-0 in the NSC.
"This is a great bunch of guys," Jasnoch said. "Our captains have really brought us together as a team. I'd do anything for these guys."
Jasnoch relies mainly on a two-seam fastball.
"I try to get as much movement on the fastball and work a slider off that," said Jasnoch, whose ball breaks down and in to a right-handed hitter. His delivery resembles that of Cubs reliever Steve Cishek, and his efficiency is Kyle Hendricks-esque.
"He's thrown complete games in 60 pitches, 65 pitches, 72 pitches," Smothers said. "He pounds the zone, and a lot of people are out in front, (hitting) groundballs."
If hitters are surprised they haven't had success against the soft-tosser, he is not. He wants to pitch to contact, especially knowing the gloves behind him. Warren's infield features senior Bradley Vondruska at third base, sophomore Brian Rapanan at shortstop, junior Mikey Kocen at second base and senior Casey Cobe at first base.
"I knew we would be a great team and I'd have a lot of defense behind me," Jasnoch said. "My game is allowing hitters to put the ball in play. I looked at our defense in the off-season. They looked good."
Jasnoch is making his coaches look smart. They keep giving him the ball in big games.
"I was glad to see that they had so much trust in me from the get-go," Jasnoch said. "I think it's one of the reasons why I've been successful. They trusted me. I can just relax and go out there and do my thing."
The success hasn't come without preparation. He takes the lessons learned from watching film with his dad and transfers them to the mound.
"You pick apart different players, see tendencies," said Jasnoch, the second oldest of Jon and Debbie's four children. "It applies to baseball, too. You see what holes (hitters) might have in their swings and attack those."
It's all true, Dru.
Sounds like a coach.
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