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Photo by Danielle Stockwell.
Photo by Danielle Stockwell.

Indiana freshman Seth Benes continues family legacy after recovering from Tommy John surgery

Benes started Indiana's home opener after missing his senior season while recovering from injury.

As a high school junior, Indiana freshman pitcher Seth Benes had a historic season with a 9-0 record and 1.79 ERA in 47 innings pitched. His fastball topped out at 90 miles per hour as a high schooler.

However, Benes underwent Tommy John surgery before his senior season. The surgery required at least nine months of recovery and he sat out the entire season, killing much of his confidence.

Benes recently opened up about his recovery, revealing his doubt during the rehab process.

“There’s a lot of times that you're throwing and you're thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to pitch again,'" Benes said.

Benes chose to play for Indiana. He said he felt a strong connection to IU, having relatives who attended Indiana. Benes admired head coach Jeff Mercer and pitching coach Dustin Glant, who influenced his decision.

“Merc is one of the best guys you’ll ever talk to and coach Glant has a lot of years of experience under his belt," Benes said. "With that combination, I knew I would be going to a place where I would be taken care of and be coached by the right guys and given a lot of opportunities to play early on.”

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Seth Benes delivers a pitch during Indiana's loss to Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 27, 2024. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

After Benes arrived in Bloomington last summer, he still had to recover before he was ready to pitch in a game. His focus was getting stronger and adding muscle. Benes established a consistent, daily routine.

“Being here is your job," he said, describing his mindset.

Mercer helped Benes's routine. Mercer gives freshmen a book to read and assigns a chapter each week.

“It helped us build mental strength and get more acclimated to college baseball," Benes said.

Sophomore pitchers Cooper Katskee and Ethan Phillips welcomed Benes to the team. Senior pitchers Ty Rybarczyk and Ty Bothwell taught Benes mental strategies for the game.

Entering the 2024 season, Benes set one personal goal: establish a stable role on the team. He needed to get innings after recovering from injury. Glant told Benes that he could see Benes fitting in as a starter or out of the bullpen.

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Ryan Kraft (left) greets Seth Benes as he comes off the mound during Indiana's loss to Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 27, 2024. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

After not pitching in a game for a year and a half, Benes returned to baseball on Feb. 20, starting Indiana’s home opener. He faced four batters, striking out two, while throwing 21 pitches in one inning pitched. It was a crazy experience, Benes said. He said he was excited that he felt like he was back to form from where he was before the surgery.

“It’s incredible… it feels like you're around professionals…," Benes said of the team. "We’re gonna be as good as anyone in the country.”

Pitching runs in the blood for the Benes family

Baseball is a tradition in the Benes family. Benes's dad, Adam, and two uncles, Alan and Andy Benes, helped coach and prepare him.

Adam Benes pitched six seasons in the minor leagues in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, throwing 363.2 innings, striking out 246 batters and posting an ERA of 4.48. He coached his son until Seth started high school baseball.

Andy Benes spent 14 seasons in the major leagues for four different teams. He was the National League strikeout leader in 1994 with 189 strikeouts, beating out Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine. Benes was an All-Star for San Diego in 1993.

Alan Benes played in the majors for eight seasons. He was a Rookie of the Year candidate in 1996, while starting in St. Louis, where the two brothers were teammates.

Seth joining the Benes legacy in baseball is a proud family moment. Seth noted that his uncles are often around, providing guidance.

“It means a lot," he said. "Seeing them always coming to my games and always reaching out to me… it’s very special. I can tell they’re very pumped up for me and proud… It's very cool to carry on their legacy.”

Seth enters each game remembering what his family tells him, “Know that you’re good.”

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