Together as Wildcats


POSTED: Friday, April 10, 2009

Until his senior year, the closest St. Anthony graduate Michael Jahns got to the high school state baseball tournament was his television set.





        » School/Class: St. Anthony '08

» Height: 6-1


» Class: Freshman


» Position RHP


» Key stats: 1-1, 4.70 ERA, 15 1/3 IP, 16 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 8 K, .267 BAA





        » School/Class: Punahou '08

» Height: 6-2


» Class: Freshman


» Position 1B/DH/RHP


» Key stats: .250 BA, 15 H, 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .467 SLG, 9 BB, .366 OBP




“;I always watched it on TV and Punahou was always in the state championship,”; Jahns recalled.

Jahns finally got his chance to be on the other end of the TV screen when he led his Trojans to the Division II state title game his senior season, calling it the “;highlight of my senior year.”;

Growing up on Maui without much media coverage or fanfare, one chance to be in the spotlight was big time to the 6-foot-1 right-hander.

For Paul Snieder, it was just another day.

As part of a Punahou dynasty that has won five straight state titles, lack of attention was never a problem.

Jahns had to work hard with phone calls and e-mails just to get coaches to come and see the Maui kid play. But Snieder would show up for games and more often then not representatives from schools at the next level were there watching.

“;That's part of playing at Punahou.”; Snieder said.

Their two different outlooks on high school baseball have come together as one at Northwestern, where both have seen the field for the Wildcats early.

Jahns has appeared in nine of Northwestern's 21 games as a pitcher, with one start. He's 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA, which is second lowest among Wildcats with at least 10 innings pitched.

Snieder, who has pitched, played first base and designated hitter, is batting .250 in 24 games with three home runs and 11 RBIs.

The nine appearances have been a surprise for Jahns, who's already changed his delivery from high school. The adjustments made by the Northwestern coaching staff have helped both his velocity and control.

“;I thought I'd have to grow a little more (before pitching),”; Jahns said. “;At first, I was completely over the top, then we adjusted it so I was three quarters.

“;It got me a lot more playing time because I got more movement on my pitch and I'm able to throw it about five miles (per hour) faster.”;

The biggest challenge for Snieder, who has also made four appearances on the mound, is switching between being a pitcher and a position player. One time in a game this season, he found himself doing both in the same inning.

“;I remember one time I was in the 'pen warming up and they called me in to hit,”; Snieder said. “;I had my mind focused on pitching and all of a sudden I'm running from the 'pen to hit.”;

To their credit, neither one had much to say about playing ball indoors during a hellacious winter that saw temperatures drop below negative-20. Except for an occasional bad odor, both have adapted well to playing baseball in frigid temperatures.

“;It has this weird, stale smell to the room,”; Jahns said of Northwestern's indoor practice facility. “;But it's better than being outside where I can't feel my hands.”;

Northwestern spent the entire first month of the season on the road and the players only had a week to practice outdoors on their own field before the Wildcats' first home game.

With heat blowers trying to keep players from feeling cold in the dugout, the Wildcats lost two games to Purdue in 35-degree weather before the third game was canceled because of snow.

“;That was tough, but the thing is now when we're playing in like 50-degree weather, it's not that bad because of what we had to play in earlier,”; Snieder said.

Northwestern is off to a 1-4 start in Big Ten play, but is finding its way with a fairly young team. When Snieder is in the game, Northwestern has as many as four position players that are freshman.

Pitching has been another problem as Northwestern has a team ERA of 6.07, which is nearly two runs more than its opponents.

The Wildcats have also been prone to giving up late leads, but got one back on Wednesday, winning on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.

“;It was sweet to finally get one like this because we've had it happen to us so many times already,”; Snieder said. “;Hopefully it can get us going.”;