Monday, May 20

    Independence bounces back with win over Cleveland Heights

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    Independence had its eight-game win streak snapped on Tuesday at Willoughby South, but the Blue Devils bounced back with a solid 8-3 win at Cleveland Heights on Thursday.

    With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 9-3 on the year.

    “The streak was a good stretch of ball, and although we lost, it was against a solid Division I, well-coached team, and a strong pitcher,” said Independence coach Jim Crooks. “We competed and we are better for having played them, along with Cleveland Heights, another well-coached, bigger school with a great athletic tradition. To come back today, in the fashion we did, and win is a credit to the young men.”

    After a walk and an error allowed the Tigers to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Blue Devils tied the game in the second.

    Dom Narduzzi drew a one-out walk, stole two bases, and scored on Luke Pascarella’s groundout.

    The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a single and an error, but again the Blue Devils answered with Max Tarnowski’s solo homer in the top of the third.

    “Max Tarnowski was an offensive spark today with three hits and a towering home run,” Crooks said. “The bottom part of the lineup came through with key hits and base runners, including Cy Jolliffe and Sam Crooks with two hits, and Andrew Stamp with a key hit.”

    A fielder’s choice and an error led to another Cleveland Heights run in the bottom of the fourth, but the Tigers’ 3-2 lead wouldn’t last.

    Tarnowski hit a one-out single in the fifth and he scored on Rory Corrigan’s game-tying RBI single.

    The Blue Devils scored four runs in the sixth.

    Pascarella singled to start the inning and Jolliffe followed with an RBI triple. Crooks was hit by a pitch, and Vince Carriero walked to load the bases. Tarnowski and Evan Beacher both drew walks, but the Tigers turned a double play to minimize the damage.

    “Our hitters were patient,” Coach Crooks said. “Heights cycled a couple of arms, and that inning made the difference in the game.”

    Narduzzi walked and scored on Jolliffe’s seventh-inning RBI single to close out the scoring.

    Tarnowski went 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI. Jolliffe and Crooks both finished with two hits and also split the game on the mound.

    Crooks threw the first four innings. He allowed three unearned runs on two hits and struck out six in earning the win. Jolliffe finished off the game. He allowed one hit and struck out two in three scoreless innings.

    “Sam Crooks and Cy Jolliffe combined for a great pitching performance, scattering three hits, combining for eight strikeouts, and limiting four walks,” Coach Crooks said. “Some solid infield play helped the hurlers on the mound.”

    Independence travels to Beachwood on Monday.


    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, 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, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the 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.

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