Monday, March 20, 2023

Independence cruises to doubleheader sweep of John Marshall

INDEPENDENCE—Independence’s baseball team geared up for the final stretch of the regular season with a doubleheader sweep of visiting John Marshall on Saturday.

The Blue Devils, who improved to 8-7 overall, pounded out 31 hits in winning the two games, 27-0 and 24-0.

“The guys got back down to just working on fundamentals,” said Independence head coach Mike Gruber. “They were working on swinging at good pitches and trying to be more patient at the plate and getting a solid hit on the ball.”

 That approach paid off as the Blue Devils scored four runs in the first inning of the first game, five in the second, seven in the third and 11 in the fourth to put an early end to the contest.

Nick Niro led the way for Independence in game one. He finished 4-for-4 with a double, five runs scored and three runs batted in. Austin Buc, Ricky Dolejs, Nikita Rees and Kyle Stefanski all contributed with two hits in the game.

Tyler Wilson picked up his first varsity win by throwing a five-inning complete game shut-out. He allowed just two hits and struck out six.

“He was able to locate strikes,” Gruber said. “The curve ball was working very nice for him. He had a lot of first pitch strikes and really got ahead in the count. The defense really did a nice job for him.”

Gruber put together a lineup of mostly junior varsity players in the second game and had five different pitchers throw one inning.

“It was nice to see an overall team effort,” he said. “It was nice to see everybody find a way to contribute to the runs, the hits and the RBIs. You can mark this down as a complete team win.”

The Blue Devils head to Wickliffe on Monday with the intention of staying in the hunt for the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division championship. Independence is 1-3 in the wide open division.

“We try to tell that to our guys each day that although we’re a .500 team right now these next three weeks can really make or break our season,” Gruber said. “We try to get them prepared and focused thinking that they’re one loss away from being able to jump ahead of a team and possibly go for a co-championship in the league.”

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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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