Blue Devils earn big conference win

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Nick Mroczynski

With an 11-1 five-inning win over visiting Cardinal on Monday, Independence’s bid for the wide open Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title remained alive.

The Blue Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first inning then scored four runs in the fourth and finished off the Huskies with five in the fifth. Kyle Stefanski went the distance on the mound.

“I’m really happy with our play tonight against a team that has been playing well,” said Independence coach Mark Echstenkamper. “Kyle threw another solid game. From a hitting standpoint, it might be one of our better games. We hit the ball with authority throughout the game. We even were able to make things happen on the bases with stolen bases and being aggressive on dirt balls. We now have to find a way to string some games together.”

Stefanski allowed one earned run on two hits and struck out four in improving to 3-1 on the year and lowering his earned run average to 0.840.

“Having a defense behind you allows you to stay confident on the mound,” Stefanski said. “I was able to throw my curveballs for strikes, which had hitters down 0-1 or 0-2. From there, they are just trying to put the ball in play and my defense was able to make all those plays.”

Stefanski has now allowed just three hits in his last 11 innings pitched with 13 strikeouts.

On Monday, he also went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and he knocked in a run.

“It’s always a great feeling to help out the boys anyway you can,” he said. “We feed off each other’s energy. Starting off the week with a ‘W’ will hopefully give us momentum for the rest of our conference games this week.”

Nick Mroczynski and Kevin Mooney also had two hits for the Blue Devils, who improved to 6-9 overall and 4-2 in league play.

Mroczynski, Mooney, Tim Marcinko and Jamie McMahon all doubled in the game.

“I went up to the plate trying to put the ball in play and move runners over,” Mroczynski said. “I was pretty satisfied with my performance today and just tried to do what I could to help my team win.”

The Blue Devils host rival Cuyahoga Heights on Tuesday.

Seth Klepper and Jake Gotham recorded hits for the Huskies.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. 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.