Wednesday, July 24

    Independence completes sweep of Lutheran West

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    Independence knocked off visiting Lutheran West on Tuesday, 9-3, completing a season sweep of the defending Chagrin Valey Conference Metro Division champion.

    With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in league play. They can clinch a share of the Metro Division title with a win over Fairview on May 6, and they can clinch it outright with a sweep of the Warriors on May 7.

    “It was really important that the guys were ready to play,” said Independence coach Jim Crooks. “Although we didn’t talk about it much, I think they understood the significance of beating a really good baseball team. Lutheran West is really well-coached, and we knew they were going to swing the bats, which they did today. Our guys came ready to compete and they battled today.”

    The Blue Devils went right to work in the bottom of the first inning.

    Andrew Stamp led off with a double and Dom Narduzzi drew a two-out walk. Cy Jolliffe followed with a two-run double that gave Independence an early 2-0 lead.

    “Winning these last two games was huge for us, not only for conference play but to boost our confidence,” said Jolliffe, who went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored. “It shows that we are a competitive team when we are on the same page.”

    Lutheran West threatened in the second when Jacob Montagu hit a leadoff double and A.J. Biascochea drew a walk off Independence starter Sam Crooks, who coaxed a pair of popups and a strikeout to end the threat.

    Ronin Tschetter drew a one-out walk in the bottom half of the inning and scored on Anthony Sobonya’s two-out RBI double.

    Lutheran West cut Independence’s lead to 3-1 with a run in the top of the third.

    Adam Flachbart hit a leadoff single and moved to second on an error. Flachbart moved to third on a groundout and he scored on Eric Dill’s sacrifice fly.

    The Blue Devils answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

    Anderson Jolliffe and Vinny Carriero drew back-to-back walks to start the rally. Jolliffe scored on a wild pitch and Carriero crossed the plate when Crooks reached on an error. Jolliffe added a clutch two-out RBI single that pushed the Independence lead to 6-1.

    “I went up to the plate with two things in mind: to find my happy pitch and to compete,” Cy Jolliffe said.

    Cy Jolliffe relieved Crooks in the fifth and allowed two runs—only one earned—on two hits and a pair of errors that allowed the Longhorns to pull to within 6-3.

    Independence added three insurance runs in the sixth.

    Stamp drew a one-out walk and Crooks singled him home with two outs. Narduzzi added an RBI single and Owen Jenks walked with the bases loaded to close out the scoring.

    Narduzzi and Jenks both finished the game 2-for-4 and Stamp, Sobonya, and Crooks each collected one hit for the Blue Devils.

    Crooks earned the win after allowing one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts. Cy Jolliffe allowed one earned run on four hits and struck out three in three innings.

    “Sam definitely set the tone on the mound,” Coach Crooks said. “Both of them threw strikes against a good hitting club and our defense made some plays behind them. They understood the significance of the game and they were locked in on the strike zone.”

    The Blue Devils remain locked in on their goal of claiming the conference title and they won’t take anything for granted.

    “We are taking it one game at a time,” Cy Jolliffe said. “Fairview is a solid team. We need to have the same mentality we have had the last nine games.”




    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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