Saturday, May 27

    Independence freshman Sam Crooks earns first varsity win

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    Independence freshman Sam Crooks earned his first varsity win after throwing four innings in a 12-2 win over visiting Berkshire on Thursday.

    Crooks allowed two runs in the top of the first and then settled in and held the Badgers scoreless over the next three innings he worked.

    “I gained a good amount (of confidence),” Crooks said. “I felt really confident on the mound with my defense behind me.”

    Berkshire scored two unearned runs in the first on an error, a walk, and a single. Crooks allowed just two baserunners in the next three innings and he fanned six in his four innings of work.

    “I just focused on throwing strikes after that first inning,” he said. “My curveball was really my out pitch today and I was just changing up speeds.”

    Independence took control of the game with a seven-run third inning. The Blue Devils added two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to invoke the run rule.

    That was more than enough offensive production for Crooks and Max Tarnowski, who threw a scoreless fifth inning for the Blue Devils.

    “Berkshire has a strong baseball tradition but this was going to be the third of four games we’re playing this week so it was an opportunity for a young guy to come in and throw,” said Independence coach Jim Crooks of his son starting the game on the mound. “He came in and did a great job and he threw strikes all day long.”

    The Blue Devils scored seven runs on five hits in the third.

    Ashton Lerz and Charlie McGreal both doubled in the inning while Mike Andryszczyk, Casey McGhee, and Rory Corrigan each hit singles. McGreal also reached on an error and Andryszczyk walked once. Dom Narduzzi drew a pair of walks in the inning.

    Lerz, Cy Jolliffe, and Luke Pascarella each singled in Independence’s two-run fourth inning and then the Blue Devils recorded a pair of doubles and a single in the fifth to close out the game.

    Andryszczyk singled while Lerz and Jolliffe both doubled. Jolliffe’s two-bagger ended the contest.

    Lerz finished the game 4-for-4 with three RBI. Andryszczyk and Jolliffe both pounded out two hits and Jolliffe knocked in three runs.

    “Ashton Lerz led the charge today with his four hits and Mike Andryszczyk continued his hitting streak,” Coach Crooks said. “Charlie McGreal had a great day and the hitting overall was contagious. Our defense also had a great game for us.”

    With the win, Independence improved to 4-3 overall and 4-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division.

    The Blue Devils host Brooklyn on Saturday.



    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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