Like father like son: Sac State closer follows in his dads steps

Fifth-year pitcher leaves mark at John Smith field


Hugo Quintanilla

Sacramento State senior closer Jack Zalasky stands on top of parking structure three overlooking John Smith field on Wednesday, April 20, 2023. Zalasky ranks third in Sacramento State history career saves with 23 saves.

Hugo Quintanilla

The Zalasky name is no foreign one to the Sac State baseball program. 

For fifth-year pitcher Jack Zalasky,  the art of pitching not only doesn’t fall far from the tree in his family’s roots, but the idea of playing ball in the 916 was something that’s always been a part of his family ties. 

Zalasky, who has been a key pitcher for the Sac State baseball team, as the teams’ primary closer, followed the footsteps of his dad, Patrick,  who played two decades ago for the Hornets in the 1993 season — and now he’s creating his own path. 

Being part of a family of pitchers, Zalasky said having his pops in his ear not only in life but on the mound as well helped him in the long run.

“He’s been around the block and he has played a lot of baseball in his day,” Zalasky said of his father. “Just having him around, his baseball knowledge and just being there for me whenever I need anything baseball wise; man, it’s awesome.”

Not only did Zalasky’s father help him prepare to be a better baseball player, but specifically as a player for Sac State. His father played at the collegiate level and ended his baseball career as a Hornet. 

“We were able to play in the same program and both experience being a Hornet,” Patrick Zalasky said. “He’s been far more successful than I was. I’m proud of that fact.” 

With his start at Elk Grove high school, Zalasky only had one Division I offer. His dreams of playing higher-level baseball came to fruition when he began at Sac State. 

“Sac State was the only school that gave me an opportunity to play Division I college baseball,” Zalasky said.

Zalasky took the opportunity with the Hornets as being close to his home in Elk Grove and said he’d still get to enjoy his dad’s chicken fried steak, he said.

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Since Zalasky joined the Hornets in 2019, the program has continued its winning seasons. The streak is currently at 11.

“It’s been awesome getting to come to a program with the tradition that we have and the winning that we have,” Zalasky said. 

Zalasky became the Hornets’ closing pitcher midway through the 2021 season, recording four saves that season while pitching to a 2.45 ERA over 28 appearances.  

The following season, Zalasky had a career high of 11 saves. This season he leads the Hornets with seven saves as a closing pitcher. 

“It’s always nice when you have a guy that’s gonna give you a chance to win,” pitching coach Jon Wente said. “He’s been doing it for a long time, it’s not something new. He’s been a great closer in the (Western Athletic Conference).”  

Zalasky was ready to compete because he had more than one mentor in his family growing up. 

Growing up with an older brother Alex Zalasky and a dad who played baseball kept Zalasky ready to compete. 

Zalasky said he always enjoyed learning from him. 

“Getting to have a role model to look up to who I’m really close in age to, is really, really nice,” Zalasky said. 

Although he doesn’t have a game day routine, Zalasky said. Closing out games for the Hornets seems to come to him easily. 

With his career almost coming to an end as a Hornet at the end of this season. Zalasky said he wants to stay in baseball, albeit not as a player.

“I want to coach after this is over,” Zalasky said. “And we’ll just see. I’m not really sure yet what I’m gonna do for sure. But I’ll figure it out, and see what happens.”