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Jackson Smith gets Providence past Mount Carmel

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As his Providence teammates celebrated a trip to state following his heroic base hit, senior shortstop Jackson Smith stopped to get a big hug from his biggest baseball inspiration.

Since he was a toddler, Smith has been following in the footsteps of his father, Shane, who came down on the field Monday to let Jackson know he was proud of him.

“He played in the minors with the (New York) Mets,” Smith said of his dad. “Obviously, I want to be just like him and play pro baseball.

“He put a bat in my hand when I was 4 years old. I swung it lefty and he was like, ‘We’ve got a lefty on our hands.’ I took it from there.”

Now, he’s taking the Celtics back to state for the first time in eight years.

Smith delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth Monday night to lift Providence to a 3-2 win over Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field.

Blake Jenner went 2-for-3 with a double for the Celtics (31-8), who sealed the program’s seventh state trophy and will try for their sixth state championship. Oklahoma recruit Enzo Infelise added an RBI triple, while Eddie Olszta doubled and scored the winning run.

Creighton recruit Nate O’Donnell threw six strong innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits. Cooper Eggert worked two perfect innings in relief to earn the win.

Providence's Jackson Smith (17) looks up on a hit in the first inning against Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field in Crestwood on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Jackson Smith (17) looks up on a hit in the first inning against Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)

Providence takes on two-time defending state champion Edwardsville (31-8) — a 7-1 winner over Downers Grove North — in a semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

Ian Tosi struck out seven over seven innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits for Mount Carmel (21-15). James Nydegger had a two-run single. Kolin Adams doubled and scored a run.

Olszta led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double and Jenner followed with an infield single. After Mitch Voltz bunted them over to second and third, Infelise was intentionally walked.

That loaded the bases for Smith. The Bradley recruit came through, blooping a single to right over the drawn-in infield for the game-winner.

Providence's Cooper Eggert (3) dumps a bucket of water on head coach Mark Smith after the Celtic punch their ticket to the state finals, beating Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field in Crestwood on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Cooper Eggert (3) dumps a bucket of water on coach Mark Smith after the Celtic defeated Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)

“It feels great,” Smith said. “Baseball’s a funny game. My balls I hit the worst were the two hits I got. That’s just how baseball is.

“I’m glad I made contact with it because that’s what you’ve got to do in that situation. I don’t know how it fell, but it fell.”

Providence coach Mark Smith, who is not related to Jackson, was confident he could count on his senior standout to come through.

“I knew they’d walk Enzo, but that’s why Smitty hits behind Enzo,” Mark Smith said. “It’s like, ‘OK, the bases are loaded. I’ll take my chances with him.’ That was the right spot for us to be in.

“With Jackson, we kind of go as he goes. He’s the senior leader. It is fitting that he was the one who came up with the big hit in that situation to get us back to state.”

Providence's Jackson Smith (17) comes into second base standing up after a hard-to-catch blooper fell into center field against Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field in Crestwood on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Jackson Smith (17) goes into second base standing up against Mount Carmel in the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional at Ozinga Field on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)

Jackson Smith was one of three seniors in the Celtics’ lineup Monday, and he’s usually the one to set the tone.

“Jackson’s a great leader,” Jenner said. “He’s been on the team for three years. He’s taught me all the way through. He helped me last year when I was hurt. This year, he’s always giving me tips and helping me with my career.”

Jackson Smith has been a key player for the Celtics since he was a sophomore. He said one thing his experience has taught him is simply to have fun.

“Really just to enjoy the game,” he said. “Baseball, you can’t play forever. High school baseball, especially, is probably one of the most fun times of your life from what I’ve heard, so I’m just trying to make the most of it.”



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