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Independence beats Butler, clinches Southwestern 4A baseball title

By Herb White
Correspondent

Independence High closed the baseball regular season like champs.

The Patriots clinched the Southwestern 4A Conference title and the top seed for next week’s league tournament with a 13-3 win at Butler on Friday in which Independence (15-8, 11-1) led from its first at-bat.

“I knew early on if we had good pitching, good defense and timely hitting, we’d make a run at the conference,” Patriots coach Daniel Cooke said. “We’ll see how far it takes us, but I’m excited. I’m proud of these guys and proud of the way they came out ready to win tonight.”

There was plenty for Independence to be pleased with, starting with 13 hits, including third baseman Triston Glover going 3-of-4 with four runs batted in. Winning pitcher James Hickes, who allowed two runs on eight hits over six innings, clubbed a three-run homer in the third inning to for a 4-0 Patriots advantage and all the momentum they’d need.

“I don’t think there’s a hotter hitter in the city right now besides James Hickes,” Cooke said. “He’s hit two home runs in two games. One of our points of emphasis is to score early, score first. To get that lead early, especially off a home run from one of our seniors with the conference title on the line was huge.”

A six-run fourth provided extra cushion for Independence, with Glover’s bases-clearing double the key blow in pushing the Patriots to a 10-0 bulge. Glover, who hit third in the lineup and Hickes, who batted cleanup, drove in seven runs combined.

“For them to go off at the right time of the game, I couldn’t be happier,” Cooke said. “(Glover’s been) a stud all year.”

Hickes did his part to keep Independence in front, keeping Butler at bay until the sixth when Jarrett Norman parked a two-out homer over the center-field wall to score Alis Almonte to close the deficit to 10-2. That was the closest Butler would get as reliever Jarrett Thompson slammed the door in the seventh.

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