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Pyne’s blast, 4 RBIs propel Indiana baseball to 12-6 home-opening win over Miami University

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For more photos, see PHOTOS: Indiana baseball clinches home opener in 12-6 win over Miami University

By the time junior Josh Pyne reached home plate, two other Indiana baseball players were waiting to greet him. Pyne had just mashed a deep shot over the wall in left center field, and at the conclusion of his trot, gathered with juniors Brandon Burckel and Carter Mathison for a quick celebratory hug. 

The Bloomfield, Indiana, native’s third inning blast was one of his two hits on the night and drove in three of his four runs en route to a 12-6 victory over Miami University of Ohio on Tuesday night at Bart Kaufman Field. 

While Pyne only hit two home runs in his two previous seasons, his newfound emphasis on power, head coach Jeff Mercer said, could help unlock a new dimension in his game. 

“His big thing was really in the kitchen and the weight room,” Mercer said postgame. “I’m excited to see where it goes because I think it’s really just the beginning. He’s a different, physical player.” 

Indiana’s home-opening win — beginning on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny February afternoon — saw four different Hoosiers tally multiple hits. Sophomore Tyler Cerny went 4-of-5 on the night, including two doubles and a pair of RBIs and moved to a team-high .500 average on the season. 

While Cerny’s bat was potent, his glove was equally as impressive at shortstop. In the top of the sixth, with RedHawk runners on the corners, Cerny slid to his left into the dirt and managed to make the inning-ending out at second.

Tyler Cerny has saved a couple of runs up the middle today. This sliding play ends the top of the sixth. #iubase pic.twitter.com/GAlaDluRau

A few innings prior, in the bottom of the third, Cerny’s emotion was heavy. In one at bat, Cerny sprayed two offerings just wide of the foul poles in left and right field. After striking out to end the frame, Cerny smacked his bat in the grass and shook his head as he walked toward the dugout. 

Still, Mercer welcomes that fiery nature. 

“He’s a super competitive player, super competitive kid,” Mercer said. “He’s done a good job of channeling it toward the game — not beating himself up, not using his emotions as a distraction, but using them to propel him and to stay locked in and stay focused.” 

Sophomore standout Devin Taylor exhibited some of that passion, as well. After hauling from first base to third on a single from Cerny in the bottom of the fifth, Taylor triumphantly punched his fists into the dirt. Taylor finished the night 3-of-4 with a walk and flashed the leather on a miraculous diving grab on the first at-bat of the contest.

T1 | ?.@devindadude_4 | #IUBase pic.twitter.com/ppYTXA0wZk

“What a lift for us to have one of the best hitters in the country who also has become a darn fine defender,” Mercer said. 

Indiana excelled at the plate, collecting 13 hits and batting .467 with runners in scoring position, but it was relatively rocky on the mound. The Hoosiers deployed eight separate arms Tuesday night, with senior righty Jack Moffitt’s two innings of work leading the group. 

Freshman Seth Benes got the start and surrendered a solo shot to Miami junior Zach MacDonald in the top of the first, and his outing was concluded after fanning two RedHawks to end the frame. Indiana sophomore Cooper Katskee pitched a clean second, but he got taken deep by former Hoosier and current Miami redshirt sophomore Evan Appelwick to lead off the third. 

Pyne’s homer gave Indiana a 4-2 advantage going into the fourth, but the RedHawks tacked on 2 runs in the fifth to knot the score. Indiana again responded, and redshirt freshman Joey Brenczewski knocked a two-run double in the bottom of the frame to help put the Hoosiers ahead 7-4. 

Miami’s only further damage came in the seventh inning. With redshirt sophomore southpaw Brandon Keyster on the mound for Indiana, RedHawk junior David Novak launched a mammoth two-run homer to left field. 

Redshirt sophomore lefty Grant Holderfield picked up the win for the Hoosiers after tossing a shutout third inning in relief of Katskee, and Mercer was pleased with the staff’s effort overall. 

“We did a good job in totality tonight,” Mercer said. “You want to make somebody earn it. We want to attack with multiple pitches and get a bunch of different guys in there and kind of grow up a little bit.” 

While Indiana held a tight 8-6 lead in the seventh, it added some crucial insurance at the plate in the bottom of the eighth. The Hoosiers smacked four doubles in the inning, with Pyne and Cerny totaling three RBIs in the frame. 

Graduate reliever Drew Buhr and redshirt freshman righty Jacob Vogel combined to close out the ninth, retiring the RedHawks in order and securing Indiana’s first home victory of the season. At 3-1 now, the Hoosiers travel to Waco, Texas, this weekend for a three-game set against Baylor University, beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. 

All three games will be televised on ESPN+. 

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Nick Rodecap (@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.

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