Tuesday, June 28
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    Independence cruises to win over Cornerstone Christian

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    INDEPENDENCE—Independence’s baseball team prepared for its postseason opener with a 14-1 five-inning win over visiting Cornerstone Christian Academy on Monday.

    The Blue Devils, who open the playoffs against Lake Ridge Academy on Tuesday, improved to 11-8 on the year.

    “We go into every game playing to the Independence standard,” said Independence coach Jim Crooks. “We don’t care who is in the other dugout. We schedule these games months in advance and we have the same approach for every game. This was our last regular-season game of the year and we wanted to close it out with a victory and the guys came ready to play.”

    Ashton Lerz was hit by a pitch and scored on Evan Beacher’s RBI single in the first inning.

    The Blue Devils broke the game open with a 10-run third.

    Independence’s first seven batters of the inning recorded a hit and four of the next five drew walks. Luke Pascarella tripled and singled in the inning to finish his day 3-for-3 with a triple, a run scored, and three runs batted in.

    The Blue Devils added three more runs in the fourth.

    Lerz, Beacher, Charlie McGreal, and Dom Narduzzi each finished with a pair of hits for the Blue Devils and Beacher knocked in three runs.

    “I’m happy with the way we hit the ball for sure,” Crooks said. “They threw two good pitchers and I expect those are tournament pitchers for Cornerstone, so it was nice to see our guys do well against a good lefty who was throwing hard and had good movement and a breaking ball.”

    Freshman Sam Crooks picked up his second victory of the season after allowing just one hit and fanning five in four scoreless innings of work.

    Senior Casey McGhee pitched the final inning. He allowed one run on one hit and struck out two.

    “We just wanted our guys to throw strikes and get outs,” Coach Crooks said. “If you can follow that game plan, you can pitch for us whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Sam did that today, so hats off to him.”

    The Blue Devils host Lake Ridge Academy in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday.

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    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.
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