Steranka Provides the Power
April 4, 2011
By Kyle G. Arslanian, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Penn State used an offensive outburst in the third and fourth inning of Sunday's rubber match to tilt the game in their favor. The scoring was started by the cornerstone of Penn State's offense; Jordan Steranka. With two men on and two outs in the bottom of the third, Steranka drove Corey Kimes' 1-2 offering over the fence in right center field for his Big Ten leading sixth home run. The homerun was just the beginning of Steranka's big day. Steranka finished the day 3-5 with six RBIs and two runs scored.
Big offensive production is something that the team has come to expect from their senior slugger, they believe he can turn the tide of any game and give them a chance to win. He has proven that this season; he leads the Big Ten in homeruns with six, RBIs with 31, and is second in slugging percentage, .613, and total bases, 65, to his teammate Sean Deegan. His presence as a leader is integral on a young team like Penn State and the younger players know his importance.
"He's the best; he brings so much to the table other than just hitting homeruns," said freshman Zach Ell. "He's a hardworking guy and as an underclassman it's good to look up to a guy like that, he shows us a lot and he's definitely a leader on our team."
The senior third basemen attribute his recent success to an improved approach at the plate.
"I was seeing it well; you know, the last two days I struggled a little bit, the whole team struggled," said Steranka. "I just focused up in BP today and was seeing it well. I think the last two days we got away from our game plan a little bit, and today kind of focused up and swung at our pitches."
In the top of the third inning, Illinois opened the scoring with two quick runs. Penn State had chance to get out of the inning, but a miscue by Steranka at third base allowed the Illini to tack on another run. Steranka admits he wanted a little redemption in his next at bat.
"I was a little mad at myself so that probably played into it, focused up a little bit more and hopefully the homerun helped us out a little bit," said Steranka.
In baseball, momentum is always important, and the three runs that Illinois scored in the third inning gave them a lot of it. Coach Wine attributes the shift in momentum to his senior slugger's homerun in the bottom of the third, the big hit allowed Penn State to keep the pressure on in the fourth when they put the game away with eight runs.
"Well, you know they had the mom and Jordan's homerun right there got it back for us," said Coach Wine. "It's an even game 303, momentum is on our side. They scored three without a hit and we were feeling like, uh oh. Jordan's homerun was a key momentum builder, it got us back in the game and from there we felt pretty good."