Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Fast start leads Independence past rival

After dropping a key doubleheader to Hawken on Monday, Independence bounced back with a five-inning win over rival Cuyahoga Heights on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils scored five first-inning runs on the way to an 11-1 five-inning win over the visiting Redskins.

“After a rough day yesterday, losing two important games with Hawken, the guys really bounced back well today,” said Independence coach Mark Echstenkamper. “Jamie McMahon did a real nice job limiting a team who has been scoring a lot of runs and hitting the ball well to one hit and one run that was unearned. On the offensive side, we had a lot of guys contributing.”

McMahon struck out seven in going the distance for the Blue Devils.

The unearned run occurred in the top of the first when R.J. Dean drew a one-out walk then scored on an error.

Cuyahoga Heights’ lead didn’t last long.

Nick Mroczynski, who finished 2-for-2, was hit by a pitch to open the bottom half of the inning, Kyle Stefanski then singled and Mroczynski scored on an error. Owen Ramm walked to put runners on second and third.

“Losing those two games yesterday definitely hurt,” Mroczynski said. “We told ourselves we had to bounce back today and prepare ourselves for playoffs. There’s no better way to start that process than run-ruling your rivals.”

Andrew Teribery drew a walk to load the bases and Stefanski scored on a groundout. Tim Marcinko and Connor Blum followed with back-to-back singles to give the Blue Devils a 5-1 lead.

“It felt great to come back and run-rule Heights,” Stefanski said. “After our games yesterday, we knew we had to start this game strong and put runs on the board early.”

Independence added six more in the third.

McMahon, Kevin Mooney, Stefanski, Ramm, and Jordan Mallernee all singled in the inning while Blum, Mroczynski, and Teribery all drew walks. McMahon and Marcinko also were hit by a pitch in the inning.

Mroczynski doubled in the fourth inning.

“I made a few adjustments to my swing to make better contact with the ball,” he said. “I feel more confident and comfortable when I’m in the box and I think that’ll help in the postseason.”

Stefanski also finished with two hits and Marcinko and Blum both knocked in two runs.

“I haven’t been swinging the bat as well as I would’ve hoped to this year,” Stefanski said. “Baseball is as much of a game mentally as it is physically and getting those hits definitely helps my confidence going forward.”

Independence hosts Harvey on Wednesday.

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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