Jul. 5—ELDON — Fireworks could be seen lighting the skies off in the distance beyond the outfield fence at Cardinal High School on Saturday night.
Inside the fences, the fireworks had already been set off by the Comets. Eight runs in the very first inning set the stage for a celebration on the diamond during a weekend of celebration across the country on Saturday.
Cardinal (17-7) advanced to the Class 2A, District 11 semifinals with a 10-1 win over Southeast Iowa Superconference rival Central Lee. The Comets will be playing baseball beyond the Independence Day holiday, facing Mid-Prairie (15-10) at Mediapolis on Tuesday starting at 5 p.m.
"I think confidence overruled the nerves. That was a big question I had for this team," Cardinal head baseball coach Ryan Renfrew said. "Would we let the nerves jump in or would we let our bats speak for themselves? The fact that we let the bats go right out of the gate, going up there aggressively with everyone looking to do some damage, showed in how well we got out of the gates."
Blaine Bryant, one of Cardinal's seven seniors, was right in the middle of the explosive start to the postseason for the Comets. Bryant followed a lead-off double by Carson Kenney with a single, the first of the Comet catcher's two hits in the opening frame.
Bryant would follow Kenney home, scoring Cardinal's second run on Saturday on an RBI double by Tatem Telfer. The next five Comets would reach base and score with the last two coming home on a two-run triple by Bryant in his second trip to the plate in the opening inning.
"I was ready for a deep postseason run. We've got a lot of seniors that have put in a lot of time in and a lot of underclassmen that have seen the time those seniors put in," Bryant said. "We know how to win in the postseason. We've already won a district championship as a group. We're going to continue to try and put together a winning formula moving forward."
Telfer's RBI double was just part of a productive night for the Cardinal freshman. On the mound, Telfer pitched into the fourth inning using up just 61 pitches to limit the Hawks to one run on one hit, two walks and one hit batter while striking out seven batters.
After being lifted for Carson Kenney, Telfer kept Central Lee (9-13) from getting any closer than nine runs by robbing Cory Jones of a potential two-run extra-base hit with a running catch in right field. Kenney would allow just three more base runners over the final three innings.
"It's not all about my pitching. It's about how I can best help the team," Telfer said. "For me, the biggest play I felt like I had was the double in the first inning. I knew we were in store for a big start the way we were hitting in the cage before the game. I didn't know it was going be that big. That was definitely the best start to the game you could ask for."
Josh Courtney added three hits, including a double, while driving in a run in the first inning before scoring on a throwing error to put the Comets up 4-0. Gavin Ware added two hits, scoring once in the first before setting up pinch-runner Isaac Lett who came home in the third as Cardinal built a 10-0 lead after just three innings.
— Scott Jackson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.