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    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
    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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