Growing up in a theatrical family, Sbarge was encouraged to pursue an acting career, and when he was just four years old he was offered a role on "Sesame Street". Sbarge appeared in numerous regional productions throughout the '80s, and his early film career got a boost from supporting roles as a rowdy teenager in "Risky Business", which starred Tom Cruise as an Ivy League-bound teen left alone for the weekend, and as a high school wrestler in the coming-of-age sports drama "Vision Quest". In 1986 Sbarge headlined the short-lived TV series "Better Days", where he portrayed a California high school student who moves to Brooklyn to live with his grandfather. He spent much of the early '90s in supporting roles in TV movies like the racial drama "So Proudly We Hail" and the tearjerker film "A Message from Holly", about a work-obsessed executive who discovers her best friend is dying of cancer. After a brief recurring role on the primetime mystery series "Murder, She Wrote", Sbarge portrayed a ship engineer on "Star Trek: Voyager", the fourth incarnation of the legendary science-fiction series. He landed his highest-profile role yet in 2001, when he joined the cast of the primetime legal series "The Guardian", which starred Simon Baker as a corporate attorney convicted of drug possession and sentenced to community service. Sbarge portrayed Baker's misguided but good-hearted best friend, Jake Straka, for all three seasons of the critically acclaimed but low-rated series.