TERRE HAUTE —
Hometown baseball has been good to Terre Haute South graduate Jacob Hayes.
The shortstop won four sectional titles with the Braves during a standout high school career, and Hayes has enjoyed this summer with the Terre Haute Rex.
Hayes’ experience with the Rex has convinced him that he’d like to leave Ohio State to play for Indiana State.
The sophomore-to-be will have to sit out next season, but he’ll still have three years of eligibility for coach Rick Heller.
Hayes is hitting .213 for the Rex with one home run, eight RBIs, two doubles and 14 runs. Hayes played sparingly this spring for Ohio State, but the appeal of returning home near a big contingent of friends and family was the main factor.
“I grew up going to ISU basketball and baseball games,” Hayes said. “Coming back playing with the Rex, playing in front of the hometown crowd, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Hayes discussed the possibility with Heller.
“I liked how he was straightforward and excited about everything,” Hayes said.
Hayes will join West Vigo graduates Tyler Wampler and Jordan Pearson as middle infielders for the Sycamores.
Hayes just hopes to continue to work on his skills the rest of the summer with the Rex.
“Summer ball’s about having fun and developing as a player,” Hayes said. “It’s been good to be able to start some games and contribute.”
• Rex addition — Stephen Bruno made his debut at shorstop for the Rex. The University of Virginia infielder missed nearly his entire sophomore season due to a torn hamstring suffered in February.
He went 0 for 3 in his Rex debut Monday against Dubois County.
“I tore my hamstring up pretty bad,” Bruno said. “It took me a while to get back. I feel about 100 percent, it’s just getting my timing back, getting back into the baseball swing of things.”
Bruno batted .388 as a freshman for the Cavaliers.
• Closing time — The Rex bullpen has been a key ingredient to success.
Chris Bossenberry is second in the Prospect League in appearances with 17. He’s tossed 28 2/3 innings, has a 3.45 ERA and three svaes.
Bossenberry’s not overpowering, but he works quickly and gets a lot of ground balls. He served as the setup man at Western Michigan and hopes to be the closer in 2012.
“I just like coming in to pressure situations, throwing a lot of strikes and letting my teammates make a lot plays for me,” Bossenberry said.
Closer Nick Cunningham, who was Arizona’s top reliever in 2010, battled through an oblique injury this spring so the summer season is necessary for him to get back in form.
Cunningham has had the chance to pitch in front of his parents, who live in Indianapolis. The big right-hander is a a graduate of Lawrence North High School.
“My parents are able to make it over for quite a few home games so it’s good to see them,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham has yet to allow an earned run and he has 11 strikeouts in 11 innings of work. Cunningham has four saves.
“Me and Boss, we just kind of clicked. We’re the guys clowning in the dugout, keeping it fun. We just back each other on the field and off the field,” Cunningham said.
Pitching wise, Cunningham is the more overpowering guy.
“[Bossenberry] is more of a sinker-slider guy. He has that two-seam running. He’s about 88-90,” said Cunningham, who throws a fastball in the low 90s with good movement.
• Break time — The Rex have three days off for the All-Star break before returning to the grind. The Rex visit Lorain County for two games this weekend before going to Butler.
The Rex return home Tuesday and return to action against West Division opponent DeKalb County.
Outfielder Ronnie Mitchell, who is hitting .370 over the past seven games, is one of many Rex players looking forward to some rest and relaxation.
“I’m going to the movies every single day …,” Mitchell said. “And I’ll just be resting a lot, been doing a lot of running so need to rest the legs.”
What will Mitchell be checking out?
“I’m going to see ‘Bad Teacher one night, ‘Horrible Bosses’ the next and whatever else is playing the third night,” he said.