Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Watroba, Buc lead Independence to 9-2 win over Brooklyn

In Monday’s season-opening loss to rival Cuyahoga Heights the Independence baseball team struggled to hit in clutch situations. That wasn’t the case in game two on Tuesday as the Blue Devils came through with runners in scoring position to beat Brooklyn, 9-2.

“You always want to see them come back after a loss and fix things they made mistakes on and see improvement the next day,” said Independence coach Mike Gruber. “They put the bat on the ball a little bit more and got that key and timely hit to score runners.”

The Blue Devils, who improved to 1-1, left just one runner on third base against Brooklyn after leaving four 90-feet away from scoring on Monday.

Independence wasted little time jumping on the Hurricanes.

Senior Austin Buc was hit by a pitch to give the Blue Devils a runner on first base with one out in the bottom half of the first inning. He advanced to third on two passed balls. He scored on James Schmetzer’s two out, two run single. Senior Jake Watroba also singled home two runs with two outs in the inning.

Independence added another run in the second and four more in the bottom of the third.

“We were getting nice looks at the baseball and putting the ball in play,” Gruber said. “After coming off a loss yesterday it was nice jumping out on them in the first and second innings.”

Buc and Watroba both had big days for the Blue Devils.

Buc picked up the win after striking out six in five innings. He allowed just one earned run on five hits and contributed offensively with a hit, a run scored and two runs batted in.

“Austin Buc had two nice days,” Gruber said. “He’s hitting a lot of line drives. He’s seeing the ball well and putting the bat on the ball. (On the mound), he found command very early and found the strike zone. He’s keeping the ball low and getting a lot of first pitch strikes. His curve ball was working for him too. He was able to drop it in at the plate and made some guys look foolish.”

Watroba was 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI.

“Jake really came up nice for us today out of the DH spot,” Gruber said. “He had two clutch hits, one with two outs that scored two runs. He came up huge with runners in scoring position. He had a good day today.”

Nick Niro and Schmetzer both finished with a pair of hits for Independence.

The Blue Devils host Fairport Harding 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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