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PHOTO: The Phillies/Mike Kennedy

By Zach Cavanagh

It has been a whirlwind for 2015 Dana Hills alumnus Luke Williams.

Two weeks ago, he was racking up hits in minor league baseball for the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Last week, Williams was leading off Team USA in Florida as the Americans officially qualified for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

This week, the 24-year-old made his major-league debut for the Philadelphia Phillies and collected a hit in his first at-bat on Tuesday, June 8, but that wasn’t the end of the wild ride.

Williams then made his first major-league start on Wednesday, June 9, and ended the game in incredible and dramatic fashion.

With the Phillies down 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and a runner on first base, Williams crushed a hanging slider four rows deep over the left-field fence for a two-run walk-off home run—Williams’ first major-league home run—and the Philadelphia win, 2-1 over Atlanta.

“I was telling my parents this morning that it hasn’t even hit,” Williams told NBC Sports Philadelphia as he got drenched by several tubs of Powerade from his teammates after the game on Wednesday. “The support I have from my friends and family back home to the Phillies organization, just class acts.”

Williams’ parents, Mark and Jeannine, as well as his younger sister and brother, Sami and Ike, got to Philadelphia to watch Luke make his debut on Tuesday and see his home run on Wednesday.

Dana Hills 2015 graduate Luke Williams helped Team USA qualify for the Olympics last week, and made his major-league debut this week with his first home run coming as a walk-off in his first start on Wednesday, June 9. Photo: The Phillies/Mike Kennedy

Williams last played for Lehigh Valley on May 23 in Syracuse, New York and finished his run with Team USA on Saturday, June 5, in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Phillies called him up to the big leagues on Monday, June 7.

“I don’t know if I’ll have words to describe that moment,” Williams said to reporters on Wednesday. “It was pretty incredible, you know? I’m still trying to figure it all out.”

Williams did hit one home run for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifiers on June 4, but he hadn’t hit a home run in 18 games for Lehigh Valley this season. In fact, because of the cancelation of the 2020 minor league baseball seasons due to the pandemic, Williams hadn’t hit a home run in a professional game since Aug. 23, 2019 with the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils.

For that reason and many more, Williams hitting a walk-off home run for the first of his major league career in his first start in the big leagues seemed pretty improbable, but that’s the magic of baseball.

Williams is only the fifth player in Phillies history to hit a walk-off home run while trailing with two outs over the last 25 seasons and the first since 2008. Williams is also the fifth player in the last 20 years across the MLB to hit a walk-off home run in their first start, the first since 2015 and the first Phillies player to do so. Williams is the fourth Phillies player to hit a walk-off home run for his first major-league home run and the first since 1996.

At AAA Lehigh Valley, Williams was hitting .352 over 18 games with a .904 OPS, 15 runs, eight RBI, four doubles and two triples.

For Team USA, Williams went 8 for 18 in four games with six runs, six RBI, a double, a triple and a home run.

For the Phillies, Williams has gone 3 for 5 in two games with two runs, two RBI, a double and a home run.

 

Zach Cavanagh
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at zcavanagh@picketfencemedia.com.

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