Baseball: Savarise has been a solid addition for Stevenson
Jon Savarise of the Patriots delivers a pitch during earlier action this fall. He's been a solid addition to the team. | Joe Shuman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 25, 2012 1:15AM
If Stevenson’s varsity baseball team hopes to repeat as North Suburban Conference champs for a third straight year, pitching down the stretch will be a huge key.
One of those arms on the Patriots’ staff is senior lefty Jon Savarise, who’s been one of the team’s top players since transferring from Loyola Academy prior to the start of the 2012 season. Savarise is a four-year varsity player who — as a right-handed hitter — also plays first base. He batted above .500 his sophomore year, and was well over the .300 mark as a junior.
As a result, Savarise is drawing interest from NCAA Division I schools such as Northern Illinois, and Wagner University (N.Y.). He’s also been in contact with several Division III clubs, and hopes his efforts will land a scholarship.
“I’ve had some teams come out and see me recently, but right now I’m keeping my options open,” Savarise said. “Hopefully, something comes along soon.”
On the mound in 2012, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler is 2-1 overall, with an ERA under 3.00. He also has one no-decision. His addition has bolstered what already was a confident Patriots club, one that began the week with a 12-6 overall record, including a 3-1 mark in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division.
“Jon comes to us (from Loyola) with a lot of experience,” said Stevenson coach Paul Mazzuca. “And being a left-handed pitcher who can throw three or four pitches for strikes at any given time … that really gives our staff a big boost. We had four quality pitchers graduate last year, so there was a void in our pitching staff. It’s been a huge pick-up for us here at Stevenson.”
Savarise may not blow anyone away with his fastball, but his control, command and knowledge of how to work the strike zone make him one of the NSC’s most dangerous pitchers. In his most recent outing, on April 17, he struck out nine, while allowing just four hits in seven innings during a 6-2 complete-game win over nonconference foe Prospect. Representatives from NIU saw him throw that day.
“Getting ahead with all of my pitches, and throwing my off-speed stuff early in the count for strikes has been key for me, and it worked well for me that day, too,” Savarise said. “The defense has also done a good job behind me all year. I try to work one of two ways out there. I either use my off-speed stuff to set up my fastball, or the other way around, depending on who we’re playing against, or who’s up to bat.”
One of the highlights of his career came in April 2011, when Savarise got to play in a game at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. It was the second time in his life he had the chance to play on a Major League field. He hit a double off the wall that just narrowly missed being a home run, but his best work came on the mound.
Savarise also threw a complete game that day, in what was a 4-2 victory over Fenwick. He stuck out six and allowed just five hits in seven innings. He showed off his durability too, by racking up 125 pitches in, “34-degree weather,” he said.
“It’s always a thrill, and a once-in-a lifetime kind of thing to play in a park like that,” Savarise said. “I just love being out there, and it’s the kind of thing I’ll never forget.”
On a roll: After winning just three of their first six games to start the season, the Patriots have won nine of their last 12. What’s been the difference?
“Consistency,” Mazzuca said. “In the beginning, we seemed to have one or two real poor innings, then play good baseball. So I’d say we’re starting to put things together and play some good ball, most days. That’s been the biggest difference. I’ve been pleased with our work ethic, too. Even though we didn’t start out great, nobody was getting down. If we continue to play the way we have been lately for seven innings, we like our chances.”
Potential showdown: As conference play continues, Mazzuca thinks he knows what the biggest obstacle may be toward a possible NSC title three-peat.
“I’d have to say, right now, Mundelein (18-3 overall, 6-0 NSC Lake) has probably put themselves in good position,” Mazzuca said. “But we’re 3-1 (in the NSC Lake), and if we play our brand of baseball and cut down on mental mistakes — which has kind of been our issue — there’s no reason why the crown can’t stay at Stevenson.”
A potentially pivotal home-and home series between the two clubs isn’t scheduled until next month. Their first matchup is at Mundelein on May 14, followed by a game at Stevenson May 15.
On deck: The Patriots were scheduled to play another key NSC Lake home-and home series against Libertyville on Tuesday and Wednesday. Stevenson will also visit North Chicago for an NSC crossover on Friday, and Buffalo Grove at 11 a.m. Saturday.