Ohio fans may not recognize the name Will Sturek. However, after Ohio's series against Toledo, it's one worth noting.
After transferring from North Iowa Area Community College ahead of the 2021 season, Sturek has proved to be a good, sneaky addition to Ohio's roster. He did not see any action in 2021, but he has made 14 appearances in 2022 — five of which have been starts.
Sturek has been on a tear as of late. After getting a hit in his pinch hit at-bat Saturday, Ohio coach Craig Moore decided it was time to give him a starting spot in both games of Sunday's doubleheader.
"Will's been working hard and getting a lot of at-bats in pinch hitting situations," Moore said. "After last night, I felt like he earned the right to get in the lineup for these two games today."
In the first game of the doubleheader, Sturek had a stellar performance. He went 0-for-1 but contributed a walk and an RBI sacrifice fly. Before starting the first game today, Sturek had four hits in his last four at-bats — all of which were pinch hit opportunities. Sturek's approach at the plate was simple: drive the ball, and make hard contact.
"Just really getting on top of the ball," Sturek said, "In the first game, I flew out a couple of times, so I wanted to really make sure that I wanted to get on top of the ball (in game two) and drive in runs."
After dropping game one of the doubleheader, Sturek and his team knew they had to kickstart the offense to earn a victory in the second game. Ohio came together in a huddle in between games and focused on preparing for the task at hand. Ohio knew it could not defeat Toledo if it didn't change its offensive outputs.
Sturek is used to coming in during pinch hitting situations, not starting. The experience of coming in during crucial situations gave him a unique confidence that helped him believe in himself at the plate during game two.
"I have had a role coming in late in games, doing anything I could," Sturek said. "Getting the start today, I think that at-bat really helped me bring that confidence to the plate."
Sturek trusted in himself and in the scouting report to have a stellar night. In game two, Sturek went 3-for-3 with two walks and a team-leading three RBIs. Sturek also set numerous career highs during his breakout performance. Before Sunday, he had not had more than two hits in a game for the Bobcats.
Sturek's performance Sunday was much needed for Ohio. He helped the team get a win and left his mark on Toledo. But more than that, the designated hitter solidified his spot as a reliable bat for Ohio.