Saturday, December 10, 2022

Blue Devils earn doubleheader split

Independence split a pair of one-run games at Disney’s Wide World of Sports on Wednesday.

A walk-off homer spoiled the first game but the Blue Devils bounced back and held off another late-inning rally to secure the split.

“The second game was a great team win,” said Independence coach Garry Moore. “Everyone contributed, especially Ashley Caputo, Neenah Costanzo and Jessica Massey, who did the little things to ensure the victory. Whether it’s a walk, sac or base hit, all must do those ‘little things’ to win ball games.”

Independence scored six runs in the final three innings to take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh against New York’s Fairport High School.

The Red Raiders opened the final half inning with a single then hit a one-out homer to tie the game.

“That was the best team we’ve faced in many years,” Moore said. “We battled all game and finally took the lead. I need to do a better job in calling pitches. Their 3-4 hitters were big hitters and I didn’t respect them enough. My kids fought a great battle.”

With the game tied at 8-8, Fairport’s No. 6 hitter also homered to end the game, although Elise Nelson nearly made an incredible catch to preserve the tie.

“Elise Nelson’s defensive play in center field was the best I’ve seen since the Hannah Stretar days,” Moore said. “She almost caught the game-winning home run. She literally ran through the fence, caught the ball and then it came out of her glove after the crash.”

Sarah Piteo homered in the game for the Blue Devils but she also took the loss in the circle.

“The team we played had very good hitters and I missed two pitches at the wrong time,” she said. “Games like this one hurt, but a lot was learned from it.”

Piteo’s two-run homer came in the top of the fifth with the Blue Devils trailing, 5-2.

“When I was walking up to the plate I knew that I had my teammates behind me,” she said. “I knew I had a job to do so when I saw the pitch coming on the outside corner I knew I had to swing. Right when it came off the bat I had a feeling it was gone because it felt so good. It felt great to come up with that hit because I was struggling pitching-wise so I was happy I could come up with a hit.”

Piteo finished the game 2-for-5 with two runs batted in. Maggie George and Caputo also had two hits in the game and George led the Blue Devils with three RBI.

Game 2 was just as dramatic as the Blue Devils led 4-1 heading into the sixth against Deerfield High School from Illinois. The Warriors rallied for two runs in the sixth but Independence added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning before pulling out a 5-4 win.

Nelson led Independence with two hits while George doubled and Piteo tripled in the game.

Piteo finished the day 3-for-8 while George was 3-for-7 with four RBI.

“Today was a fun day for the team and I because we all hit so well and played tough competition,” Piteo said. “It makes it a lot easier when the person in front of you does their job. All in all, Disney has been a very successful trip for both us and the JV and I’m very excited for the rest of the season.”

Kim Rega struck out six batters to pick up the second game win.

Independence (3-2) closes out their spring trip on Friday with a doubleheader against Webster Schroeder (NY) and Saint Ignatius College Prep (IL).

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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