CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Power first baseman Jordan Steranka figures there are people who wonder how he'll fare in the spot Stetson Allie dominated for the first half of the South Atlantic League season.
Steranka admits he's a different kind of hitter than Allie, a long bomber who started the season's second half with the advanced Class A Bradenton Marauders. But he's out to prove different isn't a bad thing.
"I'm just going to play my game," Steranka said. "I have confidence in that."
He's rewarded Power Manager Mike Ryan's confidence in him so far, driving in West Virginia's first run of the night Monday against the Hagerstown Suns. But the Suns struck back with a seven-run sixth inning to win 12-5 at Appalachian Power Park.
Steranka's first five games with West Virginia (3-2, 40-35) have been his first five professional games, despite being drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round out of Penn State last season. He was diagnosed with mononucleosis around the time of the draft and, by the time he was cleared to play in August, the organization felt it better to keep him on the shelf to regain his strength. The time off benefited him, allowing him to regain most of the 25 pounds he lost to illness
"It was tough," he said. "This offseason, that's all I really worked on, eating healthy and trying to gain weight back through workouts and stuff. I'm right around where I was at, maybe a few pounds less, but it's better muscle.
"It's one of the positives I took from it," he added. "I took all the bad out and kind of built it back up stronger."
Steranka stayed in extended spring training, though Ryan said he would have loved to have the 6-foot-1, 205-pound 23-year old from the beginning of the season. Ryan quickly put Steranka in the starting lineup at cleanup and after an 0-for-5 start in his first game, he's now batting .375 after his 2-for-5 night Monday. His first-inning RBI single up the middle gave him five RBI since joining the Power.
Centerfielder Barrett Barnes provided more of the Power's offense Monday night with RBI singles in the second and fourth innings.