Monday, February 6, 2023

Blue Devils top Parma in dramatic fashion

Parma scored seven runs in the top of the first inning in Saturday’s non-conference game at Independence but the Blue Devils rallied from behind to win 11-10 in eight innings.

Kyle Stefanski stole home in the eight to seal the win.

“It was back and forth all game,” said Independence coach Mike Gruber. “In the seventh inning we had a chance to win it then with two guys on second and third and we weren't able to get that key hit we were looking for. We got it in the eighth inning.”

Stefanski singled to open the eighth and moved to second on a ground out. He advanced to third when the Parma pitcher was called for a balk. With just one out and the winning run at third base the Parma coaching staff opted to intentionally walk the next two Independence batters to create a force out at any base.

A strike out left the Blue Devils with the bases loaded and two outs. Stefanski scored on a passed ball.

“We ended up getting one guy on and we put a little pressure on them,” Gruber said. “They ended up walking the next two to set themselves up. We had bases loaded with two outs and there was a passed ball. Kyle jumped on it and he scored.”

The dramatic ending helped the Blue Devils put aside their rough start.

The Redmen jumped out to a big lead in the first when they sent 13 batters to the plate. Starter Nick Mroczynski gave up four hits and walked four before being relieved by Pocky Montelone, who got the Blue Devils out of the jam.

Independence scored one in the bottom half of the inning when Stefanski was hit by a pitch and scored on a fielder’s choice.

The Blue Devils scored five in the bottom of the second to make it a game.

Owen Ramm, Jack Giganti and Jakob Wells all drew walks to load the bases and Tyler Wilson was then hit by a pitch to score the first run of the inning. Giganti scored on a wild pitch and two more runs came home on a double by Stefanski, who later scored on a single by Ricky Dolejs.

Stefanski finished the day 3-for-4 with four runs scored and three RBI.

“Kyle Stefanski really came out to play today,” Gruber said. “He had three hits and three RBI and scored four times. He had the game winning run in the eighth when he stole home. He had a great game for us.”

Parma scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings while Independence added three in the fourth and one in the seventh to force the extra frame.

Dolejs was 2-for-3 with a triple, 2 RBI and two walks and he pitched the final three innings to pick up the win. He struck out five.

“Ricky Dolejs came out with three strong innings pitching,” Gruber said. “He came out and did what he had to do to get the win for us.”

Independence batters pounded out nine hits and drew 10 walks.

“It was nice to see the guys taking better approaches at the plate,” Gruber said. “You could really tell they were trying to get themselves into good counts so that they could get themselves that fastball they were looking to drive.”

The Blue Devils improved to 2-3 overall. They travel to Cardinal on Monday.


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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