After his freshman season at Hofstra University in 2012, David Jesch found himself in Indiana playing in the Prospect League, a wooden bat league with teams spread across six states in the midwest.
Midway through the summer, bicep tendonitis forced Jesch, a right-handed pitcher, to head back home to New Jersey. Jesch missed out on the opportunity of a full summer playing baseball against strong college competition.
A year later, now playing for the North Fork Ospreys in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, Jesch is thriving.
“It’s just a fun experience overall,” he said.
With only about a two-week break from the end of his season with Hofstra, Jesch quickly got into a groove with the Ospreys, developing into the team’s top pitcher through the first six weeks.
He pitched seven innings Tuesday against Southampton, giving up just one run in a 9-4 North Fork victory at Southampton College.
“I was just attacking early with the fastball,” Jesch said. “I’m getting ahead early. Working the fastball down and use the breaking stuff when I need it.”
Jesch lowered his ERA to 2.25 while improving to 4-0 in six starts. He currently leads the league in strikeouts and innings pitched with 40 each. He struck out seven Southampton batters Tuesday to reach that total. His four wins are also tied for the league lead.
Coming into the summer Jesch said one of his goals was to work on pitching inside more to batters.
“Really just change speeds, work on command,” he said.
He gave up six hits against the Breakers and walked two. The only run he gave up came in the sixth after he walked the first two batters. Jonathan Ramon hit an RBI single with one out to score Kyle Zech.
Jesch got out of the inning with a double play that he started. He fielded a grounder and threw to second for one out. On the relay to first, Drew Bryan tried to race around third and score, but was gunned down on a throw from first baseman Mike Hayden.
In the seventh, North Fork manager Bill Ianniciello went out to the mound for a visit with a runner on first and one away. Jesch knew his time was limited. His pitch count was climbing up over 100.
“He wanted to know if I was good to stay out there and finish the inning,” Jesch said. “I said there’s no way I’m coming out now.”
Jesch got the next two batters and a first-pump from Ianniciello as he walked back toward the dugout.
Jesch got handed an early lead as the Ospreys (12-16) grabbed a 3-0 lead through the first three innings. They blew it open with a four-run fourth inning to go ahead 7-0. A bevy of Southampton (11-16) errors helped fuel the rally.
Nick Heath, a speedy outfielder from Northwestern State University, sparked the Osprey’s offense with a 3-for-5 day. He created havoc on the basepaths each time he got on. He had two stolen bases, increasing his team-leading total to 18. He’s currently second in the league behind Riverhead’s Jack Sundberg.
Heath hit an RBI double in the fifth inning and is now batting .316 this summer.
At Hofstra last spring Jesch pitched 25 innings and started three games. He struggled at times and finished with a 7.20 ERA.
As the summer continues, he hopes to continue maintaining his velocity, working both sides of the plate and keeping hitters off balance.
And so far living out on the North Fork has been a great experience, Jesch said.
“I have a great host family,” he said. “There’s a lot to do out here. It’s a good time when you’re not playing baseball and a great time while you’re on the field.”