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story.lead_photo.caption Baseball players warm up Saturday, March 20, 2021, in advance of the Fatima Comets' season opener against the Capital City Cavaliers in Jefferson City. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

After a week of indoor practices, the Fatima Comets had to make a few adjustments Saturday afternoon in their season opener at Capital City.

The day got progressively better for the Comets, who sprayed hits all around the field and kept Cavalier baserunners at bay for the most part in a 10-1 victory.

"They had good approaches at the plate," first-year Fatima coach Tyler VanGerpen said. "Pitchers threw strikes, they challenged hitters, they forced them to put the ball in play. And then the defense was ready whenever they needed to be."

For Capital City, it was a day of firsts.

Brett Kuebler recorded the program's first hit in varsity competition with a one-out single to left field in the first inning.

In the second inning, Isaiah Ntalamu flashed his way to second base for the first steal.

"Those are big for us and those are things that can go down in the history books," Capital City coach Brett Skinner said, "so we definitely celebrate those. I said we got a lot of firsts accomplished here and now we move on to a little bit bigger firsts."

With two outs and Ntalamu at second, No. 9 batter Trey Jennings singled to center field for Capital City's first RBI.

"I love it. I love my nine hole and he can get down there and swing and turn that lineup over," Skinner said. "I was pleased with his approach at the plate."

Fatima's Gage Cunningham set up the game's first run in the top of the second by sending the 11th pitch of an at-bat to right field and galloping all the way to third base for a triple.

Cunningham's courtesy runner then scored on a passed ball.

A Jake Boyce groundout in the third put Fatima ahead 2-1. Four runs came across in the fourth after two hits, a wild pitch, a bases-loaded walk, a fielder's choice and a pickoff throw that got away.

By the seventh inning, the Comets were hacking.

Shane Verslues dropped a fly ball into the right-field gap for an RBI double and Daniel Kleffner added an RBI single to right field as part of a three-run inning.

Cunningham reached base four times with three hits and a walk. Verslues, Kleffner and Blake Gentges each finished with a pair of hits.

Cunningham also went four innings on the mound, stranding a runner in scoring position in each of the first three before shutting the door with a 1-2-3 fourth.

The Fatima senior struck out four, walked three and allowed a run on three hits.

"There's a lot of adjustments that needed to be made in that first inning, and he did a darn good job of making sure he did that," VanGerpen said. "I was really impressed. He threw a lot of strikes, he challenged hitters."

Kleffner only allowed two baserunners on walks in three innings of relief, striking out three.

Taggert Bodenstab got the start for the Cavaliers. He allowed four earned runs and five hits while striking out six and walking three.

"I thought he was really good," Skinner said. "First outing you could tell he was getting a little tired there towards the end, but overall I was very pleased."

Fatima will have its home opener Monday against Helias. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. in Westphalia.

Capital City will head to Owensville on Monday for a 4:30 p.m. start.

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