Nazareth edges Kennard, advances to UIL Class 1A state baseball championship

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Nazareth pitcher Trent Gerber celebrates after recording his 10th strikeout that led the Swifts to a 1-0 shutout win over Kennard in the Class 1A state semifinals on Wednesday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. [Travis Harsch/ For Press Pass Sports]
The Nazareth Swifts had to walk an extremely fine line in the Class 1A state semifinals Wednesday morning to reach the state championship game.
But Trent Gerber was as sure-footed as he could be.
More accurately, Gerber was strong-armed. The senior right-hander was spot-on against Kennard, giving up only three singles with 10 strikeouts and no walks as Nazareth squeaked out a 1-0 win at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond to reach the state championship game.
A stiff test will await the Swifts (21-1) in the form of D’Hanis in the championship game at 9 a.m. Thursday at Dell. D’Hanis (27-3) had no trouble with Abbott in the other semifinal, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the fourth to achieve the 10-run mercy rule margin for a 16-0 win in a game which lasted five innings.
Should Nazareth overcome D’Hanis and win the state title, the Swifts would be the first Texas Panhandle baseball team to win a UIL state championship since Dumas in 1971.
Just getting into the title game was a tense experience for Nazareth. The Swifts had four consecutive one-out singles (all 10 hits the two teams combined for in the game were singles) in the bottom of the first to complete the game’s offense.
With one out in the first, Carson Heiman (who’s likely to be the starting pitcher for the Swifts in the title game) and Gerber hit back-to-back singles up the middle off Kennard starter Dylan Cole. Tanner BIrkenfeld then singled down the left-field line to load the bases.
Brett Young then picked up the game’s only RBI, and that was on an infield single to score Heiman for a 1-0 lead. That was it for the scoring.
Gerber did the rest on the mound and was rarely in any trouble. The closest Kennard (24-15) came to damaging Gerber was in the fourth when Cole singled with one out after a Nazareth error to put runners on first and second.
But Gerber struck out Keyton Lumbreraz and Ryan Pilkington to end the inning, as that was the only time the Tigers got a runner as far as second base.
It was a good thing Gerber was sharp since the Swifts got next to nothing off Cole over the last six innings, as they also failed to advance a runner past second.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Pilkington singled off Gerber to right to put the tying run on base. But Gerber struck out Caleb Alfred and Adrian Montero to end it and assure Naz a spot in the championship game for the first time in school history.

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