Providence makes history with its record sixth state championship

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Providence’s jerseys did not display the school’s name or nickname on Saturday in Joliet. The Celtics wore a black jersey with “Emerald Isle” in green on the front.

It was fitting as Duly Health and Care Field filled with a large crowd wearing green and hoping to watch history.

The Celtics baseball team delivered, defeating Conant 4-1 to win the Class 4A state championship. It is a record sixth state title for Providence, surpassing the five held by rival Joliet Catholic and Edwardsville.

Junior Kasten Goebbert learned earlier on Saturday that he would be throwing the state championship game. He was great, pitching six innings and allowing just three hits and one earned run.

“These were my favorite months of baseball I’ve ever played,” Goebbert said. “They all made it special and winning this match made it even better.”

Goebbert came out to pitch the seventh, but was removed after Matt Maize led off the inning for Conant by crushing a home run to right field.

Celtics coach Mark Smith turned to junior Nate O’Donnell, who closed out the win. O’Donnell was the offensive hero for Providence, with two hits and two RBI.

“The crowd definitely made it feel special,” O’Donnell said. “During the play-offs the crowd kept getting bigger and I really appreciate everyone coming out tonight.”

The first three hitters in Providence’s lineup are future college hitters: Enzo Infelise (Oklahoma), Jackson Smith (Bradley) and O’Donnell (Creighton). But the Celtics’ successful playoff run was built on defense and pitching.

Providence allowed just four hits and two runs in the two state finals. The Celtics have not allowed more than two runs in any playoff game.

“They’re just a lot of great pitchers,” O’Donnell said. “We rely on each other, we’ve been healthy and the defense played great. But the key was throwing a lot of strikes.

The Celtics won Class 4A in 2016, 2015 and 2014 under Smith. Jaime Garcia led the school to Class A titles in 1986 and 1978.

It was the first title game appearance for Conant (30-8), which has won its last eight regular-season games.

Cougars starting pitcher Bryce Loeger threw seven innings and did not allow an earned run, but was undone by his team’s two errors. Loeger struckout seven, walked three and gave up six hits.

“As soon as we stepped into this school, we knew we were going to make history,” Conant catcher Jake Parpet said. “We came up short, but we made history. Ultimately we will be proud of it, but right now it sucks.”