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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Despite Tibbitts’ injury, Indiana baseball rallies to defeat Indiana State

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In a near-mirror image of its blowout loss in Terre Haute on March 19, Indiana baseball routed Indiana State University 16-7 Tuesday night at Bart Kaufman Field behind shortstop Tyler Cerny’s four-hit game and third baseman Josh Pyne’s go-ahead, slump-busting home run. Junior infielder Brock Tibbitts, who has started all but two possible games thus far in his career, exited the game with an apparent left leg injury in the top of the second inning.  

Just two weeks removed from one of many bullpen implosions this season, the Hoosiers defeated the No. 17 Sycamores, erasing a six-run deficit after the top of the fourth inning and outscoring Indiana State 15-1 in the final five innings of action. Indiana put up six runs in the fourth and sixth innings, with a two-out grand slam from Cerny tying the game at six runs apiece in the fourth frame.  

“I gave away my first at-bat,” Cerny said postgame. “I went up to the plate that time with a better approach, just trying to hit a line drive. Just trying to help the team get those runs.”  

Cerny added that his grand slam sparked a momentum swing.  

“It shifted us to a better dugout energy that got us going,” he said. “We’re just going to keep going out there and fighting. That’s what we do.” 

Pyne, who began the season batting second in the Indiana lineup, found himself batting ninth Tuesday after a slump that saw his batting average dip below .250. Although he went just 1-5 at the dish, his home run gave Indiana a lead it didn’t relinquish, and head coach Jeff Mercer said he has the utmost confidence in the veteran infielder.  

“Josh is a great player,” Mercer said postgame. “He’ll be fine. You have to make a lineup based on some of the numbers, but Josh will be okay. He’ll get back in there just like he did tonight.” 

Cerny and Pyne came through in high-leverage spots for the Hoosiers, who scored runs in bunches thanks to the two-headed monster of a 14-hit game and an Indiana State pitching staff that left most of its command somewhere along the one hour, 15-minute drive between Terre Haute and Bloomington.  

Eight Indiana batters hit safely, and all nine reached base at least once, largely because Sycamore pitchers issued nine walks, hit two Indiana batters and surrendered two wild pitches, one of which led to an Indiana run.  

Indiana’s hurlers, by contrast, held Indiana State to just one run after the fourth inning, led by sophomores Ethan Phillips and Brayden Risedorph, as well as redshirt-freshman Jacob Vogel. Phillips picked up his fourth win of the year and Vogel turned in his first outing longer than one inning this season.  

Risedorph, who Mercer said was running “on fumes,” spun 1 ⅔ scoreless innings in a get-right outing after surrendering the game-winning home run against Butler University on Saturday night.  

“We were much more ourselves today,” Mercer said. “We’ve also shown some flashes. It hasn’t been completely out of nowhere. We’ve been better, we are capable and we’re getting some other guys on the mound to help.” 

Mercer continued, adding that emotional control is crucial to Indiana’s success.  

“It’s so critically important, how we manage our emotions,” he said. “How we talk to ourselves on a pitch-to-pitch basis. The freshmen have been bringing a little bit of energy, and that’s a big deal. That’s always a good thing to play with.”  

Chief among those freshmen is reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Jasen Oliver, who extended his team-best hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-5 performance. He looks to stay hot when the Hoosiers head to College Park for a three-game set at Maryland this weekend.  

According to Mercer, Tibbitts’ injury status is unknown, with the usual Hoosier cleanup man scheduled to undergo testing soon.  

“You feel for him and hope it’s not too serious,” Mercer said. “We’ll see more as we go tomorrow.”  

Now 16-14 this season, Indiana faces off against the 20-8 Terrapins, who are still yet to play a Wednesday midweek versus the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. All three games, at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.  

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

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