Biffar, Offense Propels Gibault Catholic To 1A State Championship

By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

The 1A state championship game featured a matchup between the Gibault Catholic Hawks and Henry-Senachwine Mallards, with first pitch from Dozer Park at around noon. 

It was the Hawks who scored first, doing so on a throwing error in the bottom half of the first inning. Hudson Blank (2024) extended the inning, legging out a ground ball on a would-be double play, and he promptly stole second base a few pitches later. Blank broke for third in the same at-bat, coming around to throw on an errant throw from the Mallards’ catcher. 

Neither team scored in the second or third, but Gibault Catholic threatened twice, putting runners in scoring position in each frame and failing to capitalize. 

The Hawks added on to their lead in the fourth with a pair of runs. With two outs, Jack Keevan (2024) jumped on the first pitch he saw and sprayed it up the middle, plating a pair. Through four, Gibault Catholic led 3-0. 

Henry-Senachwine didn’t score in their half of the fifth, and the inning’s bottom frame is when Gibault Catholic really blew things open. The aforementioned Blank backspun a baseball directly over the left field fence for a two-run shot, his second such hit of the tournament. 

Brady Biffar (2024) tripled down the right field line moments after, coming around to score on a single up the middle from Ty Frierdich (2024). Peyton Schaefer (2025) flared a single to left and moving Frierdich into scoring position, and bringing Keevan back to the plate.

After spoiling a few pitches, the left-handed hitting junior split the left-center gap with a double to bring a run home. Keevan eventually scored on an infield single from Kamren Hanvey (2023), and Gibault Catholic led 8-0 with six outs to go. 

Henry-Senachwine failed to score a run in each of their next two innings, going down in order to end it in the seventh. Biffar was masterful for Gibault Catholic, navigating through the Mallards’ lineup effortlessly. He hurled a complete game shutout on just 72 pitches, striking out five, and allowing only four hits total. 

Hanvey, Frierdich, Keevan, and Tyler Frierdich (2025) all had two hits for the Hawks in their win. Keevan led the offense with three RBIs, while Blank plated a pair, and both Hanvey and Frierdich added a run each. 

This is Gibault Catholic’s second state championship, as the Hawks won the state title back in 2013, too. They’ll cap their memorable 2023 campaign with an overall record of 24-14. 


Tied at 2-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Newman Central Catholic busted things open thanks to key production from the middle of the order, all with two outs. 

Joe Oswalt (2025) and Isaiah Williams (2024) each reached base to start the inning, turning the lineup over. The next two Comet bats were retired, but senior Kyle Wolfe (2023) kept the inning alive with a single up the middle, scoring Oswalt. 

That brought slugger Brendan Tunink (2024; Notre Dame commit) to the plate. Entering these state playoffs, Tunink was batting .325 with 17 home runs and a team-high 47 RBIs. He was mostly pitched around in both of the games, including an intentional walk earlier in this contest, but one of the state’s top left-handed junior bats clobbered a ball deep into the right-center gap, flying around the bases for a three-run inside-the-park home run. 

After all that, the Comets’ led 6-2. 

Nolan Britt (2023) capped three relief innings of unearned ball with a scoreless seventh, securing the Comets’ win, and a third place finish on the year. 

Tunink himself struck out six over four innings of one-hit ball in a start for Newman Central Catholic. He finished with a pair of hits, bringing home three, and he was walked twice, too. Wolfe totaled two hits and two RBIs in his final game, and Britt plated a run as well. 

For Goreville, Hunter Francis (2024) and Grant Krack (2025) each had RBIs. Francis turned in a strong effort on the mound, drawing the start for the Black Cats and hurling 4 ⅓ innings of two-run ball, punching out five, and scattering five hits.