Independence scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Fairport Harding, 6-5, on Wednesday. The Blue Devils led 2-1 after five innings but saw the Skippers put two on the board in both the sixth and seventh innings to set up the heroics.
“The hits started to be contagious and it was great seeing the guys come up to bat in the seventh after giving up the lead in the sixth and come back to win,” said Independence head coach Mike Gruber.
Pasquale Monteleone pitched just 1/3 of an inning to pick up the win. He also walked to start Independence’s seventh inning rally.
James Schmetzer started the game on the mound and struck out five in five innings of work but it was what he did at the plate that had the biggest impact. He tripled in a run and later scored to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead after five then added an RBI double in the seventh and scored on a single by Ricky Dolejs.
“James Schmetzer had a terrific game,” Gruber said. “He was locating low strikes and keeping the hitters off balance with his curve ball. At the plate he had a breakout game for his season driving in two runs and scoring twice. The ball kept finding James’ sweet spot of the bat and he was driving the ball for extra bases.”
Nick Niro’s two-run single ended the game.
He finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI.
“All game he was hitting the ball hard,” Gruber said. “When he came up in the seventh, it was the right guy at the right time. I had confidence he was going to put the ball in play somewhere to give us an opportunity to win the game.”
The Blue Devils have now won two straight after opening the season with a disappointing loss to Cuyahoga Heights.
“It was great to see our guys battle back,” Gruber said. “After giving up the lead in the sixth and down by three in the bottom of the seventh, the game could have been easily over, but the team did not give up and strung some hits together to came back and win. It was truly a great team effort.”