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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Jessee’s home runs, Yoho’s strikeouts, shine in Indiana baseball’s 13-5 home-opening win

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Senior outfielder Hunter Jessee sharply rounded third base, pumping his arms even harder to accelerate. The outfield's tardy relay throw meant Jessee was guaranteed to score — and yet, he barreled over home plate.  

Jessee got up, quickly shook his head to regroup, and jogged back to the dugout. That wasn't the most elegant slide. But hey, the run counts — the first of seven in the third inning of Indiana baseball's 13-5 victory over Miami University (Ohio) in Tuesday's home opener.  

Jessee initially wasn't planning to slide. It wasn’t until Miami catcher Tommy Harrison threw up his arms, marking the target for the relay throw, that Jessee crashed onto the turf. Harrison didn’t even attempt to tag Jessee, who couldn't seem to make up his mind about how hard he hit the ground.  

"I was like, 'I'm just going to get down to make sure,’ so I got down not hard," Jessee said postgame. "Well, I got down hard.” 

Jessee left the explanation there. But regardless, the senior shook off the bump, poking an opposite-field home run into Indiana's bullpen four innings later to extend the lead to 13-4.  This marked Jessee's second-career multi-homer game. The senior had already clobbered one pitch 402 feet pull-side in the first inning to place Indiana up 1-0.  

"When (Jessee) loads correctly and stays behind the ball, he is that kind of that rare combination of twitch and strength," Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame. "When he's in a good spot, he can leave the yard to anywhere as you saw today."  

Jessee finished Tuesday's game batting 3-for-4: one single, later scoring on that slide, placed in between the two home runs. Jessee's team-leading four runs batted in set the senior's new career high.  

Jessee went 0-for-5 at the plate during Indiana's first two games of the season — both losses at Auburn University. In two victories after that — the final game at Auburn and Tuesday's home opener — Jessee has batted 7-for-9, with four extra-base hits. Why the sudden spike? 

No, it's not because of any new tape, a new bat or wearing an undershirt inside-out for good luck, if college players even do that. But, Jessee's well-kept thick brown mustache did vanish.   

"Oh, I had shaved it after the second game (at Auburn), right after," Jessee said. "Just needed to reset after the two losses."  

That may be the reason behind the two home runs.  

"Sure, we can call it that," Jessee joked. "But no, not really. A good approach, preparation before the game stuff, good scouting reports. We knew the starter, soft-throwing, there was going to be a lot of off-speed going into the game. Looking for that, got it, and just got out front." 

For Indiana's pitching game plan, Mercer elected to throw nine pitchers in the midweek contest. Right-handed junior Seti Manase started the home opener and was credited with the win, despite only throwing one inning.  

Senior right-hander Craig Yoho, making his first appearance in an Indiana uniform through three seasons, struck out five of the eight batters he faced in two innings.  

"Everybody was so happy for me,” Yoho said. “That's the kind of team we are. We're a brotherhood. That's what we preach and it really shows when we compete. We want it just as bad for the other guys as we want success for ourselves."  

During Yoho’s freshman year in 2019, he suffered an injury after starting three games at the University of Houston. In 2020, COVID-19 halted the season, and Yoho only made one appearance. Yoho transferred to Indiana, but did not play in the 2021 season. And last year, as a junior, Yoho missed another season of his collegiate career due to an injury.  

"He has come back from three surgeries now," Mercer said. "Craig was a big-time recruit out of high school, went to Houston and then transferred here during COVID. He was a position player and pitcher and to see him become the player he was — probably better than he's ever been. You're just really happy for him."  

Indiana improves to 2-2 following the home-opening victory over Miami for the second consecutive season. The team's schedule continues this weekend at the University of Texas, in another three-game road series. 

Follow reporters Matthew Byrne (.@MatthewByrne1) and Nick Rodecap (.@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.

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